Will Consumers Accept Microwave Drying?
2018-12-20 11:41 Thursday
Non-thermal food processing technologies such as microwave drying have many advantages for consumers. However, a recent study in three European countries found that consumers remain resistant to them.
Microwave drying is an emerging food processing technology, which is being applied in diverse contexts, and has enormous implications on the production of organic food. According to Dr. Daniele Asioli, a Lecturer at Reading University, microwave drying effectively preserves the organic matter of food, its nutritional content and sensory qualities.
Consumers Prefer Air Drying
Despite the benefits of microwave drying, an article in Food Research Journal noted that organic consumers in Norway, Rome and Turkey preferred air-drying techniques.
In the study, researchers analyzed data from 614 consumers and found that they generally preferred dried organic strawberries, which are processed using air-drying techniques, have natural nutrients and are less expensive.
Dr. Asioli noted that food processing technology is the most important factor in consumers' purchasing decisions, followed by origin, nutrient content and price.
The group with the highest acceptance of microwave drying products are young consumers in Norway, who were more positive about the new technology. The consumers most likely to reject microwave drying products are elderly people in Turkey, who prefer organic, natural and pollution-free food.
Improving Consumer Acceptance
How then, should producers convince more consumers tp accept microwave drying technology? One answer is that food producers and regulators should play an important role in normalizing the technology.
Firstly, producers should define the target consumer group. Microwave dried organic strawberry consumers will also have different preferences from those of other products. This will help in defining target groups more accurately. For example, in the early stage of sales, food companies can target young consumers in Norway before expanding to other consumer groups.
Secondly, experts and consumer associations should inform consumers about the microwave drying process, characteristicd and advantages, especially with regard to safety.
Finally, the establishment of labeling regulations will ensure that consumers have access to correct information on the new technology.
"The emergence of a new technology raises a concern: is this technology safe? Therefore, food companies that plan to use microwave drying must communicate to their consumers that this technology is safe", Dr. Asioli said.