22July2024

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Food Choices – What’s My Motivation?

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Research is ongoing at Teagasc in collaboration with University College Cork, to better understand and predict consumer behaviour in relation to food and health. Some of the results of this research are published in an article in the winter edition of the Teagasc magazine TResearch which is available on http://www.teagasc.ie/publications/tresearch/

The National Adult Nutrition Survey was recently completed by a multidisciplinary team from University College Cork, University College Dublin, Teagasc and the University of Ulster. It is a nationally representative database of habitual consumption, consumer food choice attitudes, motives and biological measurements in 1,500 adults.

The research shows that for the overall survey population, Taste is the single most significant food preference. Health and Nutrition is the second most important factor influencing food selection choices. Only a small proportion of consumers deemed weight, or mood to be the most important preference when making food choices.

The survey population were grouped into three segments based on different food choice motives, namely – ‘uninvolved juniors’, ‘all rounders’ and ‘healthy seniors’.

The food choices of the ‘uninvolved juniors’ is driven by taste and convenience. The ‘all rounders’ were motivated by many factors but taste was the most common. Forty six per cent of the ‘healthy seniors’ segment ranked health and nutrition as the most important , much higher than taste , showing that while they want both from their food, health takes priority.

From these findings, it is clear that any new food product development to offer healthier food options must take account of the importance that is placed on taste.

The full article by Lucy McKeown and Dr Sinéad McCarthy from Teagasc and Dr Mary McCarthy from UCC can be viewed online at http://www.teagasc.ie/publications/tresearch/