'Organic’ leaves a bad taste in the mouths of some consumers

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Labeling food as “organic” may not always lead to a positive impression, according to a recent Cornell University study.

The research, published Nov. 27 online in the journal Appetite, flips the notion of a “halo” effect for ethical food labels. A halo effect refers to a phenomenon where a label leads consumers to have a positive opinion – and in the case of an organic label, a healthful impression – of those foods.

This research finds that such positive impressions are partly based on the personal values of a consumer. The two-part study found that some conditions can produce a negative impression of organic labels among consumers, due to the consumer’s values.

In the first part, Jonathon Schuldt, Cornell assistant professor of communication, and Mary Hannahan, a student at the University of Michigan, asked 215 students whether they thought organic food was healthier and tastier than conventional food. While most agreed that organics were a healthy choice compared with conventional food, fewer expected organic food to taste good by comparison. This latter finding was especially true for participants who had low concern for the environment.

“The personal values of the rater mattered,” said Schuldt. “Our data suggest when organic practices do not appeal to a consumer’s values, they expect organic food to taste worse.”

In part two of the study, the researchers explored whether there were contexts in which people who were pro-environment might have a negative impression of organic labels. Here, 156 participants read one of two versions of a fake news article that discussed the development of “a highly engineered drink product designed to relieve the symptoms of African children suffering from severe malnutrition,” according to the study. To convey the artificial, engineered aspect of the beverage, the article described the drink – named “Relief drink 1.1” – as a “formula” that resulted from a collaboration between “scientists and the food industry.” In one version of the news article, the engineered drink was described as organic every time the drink was mentioned. The other version never mentioned the word organic. Participants were randomly assigned one version of the news story or the other.

The results showed that participants who were highly pro-environment judged the organic version of the drink to be less effective compared with the non-organic version.

“It’s a reminder that the halo effect hinges on the values of the perceiver,” said Schuldt. “It’s not the case that you can label a food organic and expect that everyone will perceive it more positively. Under certain circumstances, ethical labels could have an unintended backfire effect.”

Future research may involve taste tests of organic and conventional foods to see if personal values influence a taster’s perceptions when actually eating a food, Schuldt added.


Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (0) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left


Elevator Legs

Adams Fertilizer Equipment offers an increasing line of fertilizer handling equipment to meet the needs of today’s industry. Whether it ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form