How to market food processed with new technologies

SHARE YOUR SCIENCE: Marketing researchers have developed a guide for food manufacturers who sell products processed with new technologies.

Research Facts

This research was carried out as part of the “iNOBox” project, which started in 2018, is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR) and is due to be completed in 2022. Read more about the project here.

The food industry has made extensive improvements to ensure food has a longer shelf life without compromising overall quality, taste experience or nutritional value.

At the heart of this development are new processing technologies, including the use of high pressure technologies, microwaves, UV light, pulsed electric fields and ultrasound.

Technologies with multiple benefits

Most of the time, these processing technologies are not discussed for fear of triggering undesirable consumer reactions. However, as these technologies offer many benefits and consumers are increasingly tech savvy, the time may be right to evaluate the use of modern processing technologies and their benefits in marketing communication strategies.

However, there remains a point of uncertainty as to where this use of technology should be communicated. It can be difficult to make decisions about whether or not information about the use of these technologies should be included on packaging.

That’s why we created a research-based guide that can help companies make these kinds of decisions.

How we developed the tool

In developing this tool, we followed a seven-step process inspired by new product development approaches. When developing a new product, use development loops to ensure future stages of development are worth investing in. In this case, we used two loops to refine our decision-making tool before finalizing it.

  • We started with a thorough literature review of existing knowledge on consumer acceptance of innovative food processing technologies. We have learned that some technologies are more readily accepted than others and that this depends on the product categories in which the technologies are used.
  • This overview also highlighted where knowledge was lacking. Our goal was to fill this knowledge gap through a consumer survey in which 1,200 Norwegian consumers took part. The established knowledge and new insights from the survey were used to create a trial version of the decision tool.
  • We sent it to food manufacturers who tested and used it to make decisions about product ideas and relevant communication with the market and their customers. We also received a lot of useful feedback on the tool’s usability.
  • We then conducted a new survey with 600 Norwegian consumers. Participants were able to see products that did and did not contain the information in question. Results showed that information about some technologies was accepted more readily than others, while information about the benefits of using technologies was well received by all participants.
  • This second survey allowed us to fine-tune the final version of the support tool. We called it Beslutningsstøtteverktøy für markedskommunikasjon (MCDST). [Decision-making tool for marketing communication].

The tool is available on our website or as a PDF file (in Norwegian).


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