Food Policy Volume 37 issue 3 2012 [doi 10.1016_j.foodpol.2012.02.005] Nicole Elizabeth Hellyer; Iain Fraser; Janet Haddock-Fraser -- Food choice, health information and functional ingredients- An e.pdf

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  Food choice, health information and functional ingredients: An experimentalauction employing bread Nicole Elizabeth Hellyer a , Iain Fraser b,d, ⇑ , Janet Haddock-Fraser c a Kent Business School, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7PE, United Kingdom b School of Economics, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NP, United Kingdom c Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury CT1 1QU, United Kingdom d School of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria 3083, Australia a r t i c l e i n f o  Article history: Received 14 October 2010Received in revised form 23 September2011Accepted 13 February 2012Available online 20 March 2012 Keywords: Functional foodsFibreBreadWhole grainsWillingness-to-pay a b s t r a c t In this paper we present the results of an experimental auction conducted to examine the influence of health and nutritional information on food choice and in particular estimate consumer willingness topay (WTP) for bread that contains functional ingredients. Employing a sandwich we find that consumersare WTP more for a whole grain and whole grain granary bread sandwich than other bread types includ-ing white bread that contains a functional ingredient. We also find that consumers react positively to theprovision of nutritional and health benefit information but that this effect occurs regardless of whetherwe supply specific or non-specific health benefit information. We discuss information provision andhealth policy implications that emerge from our analysis for bread products in the sandwich market.   2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Introduction There are an increasing number of novel food products beingdeveloped and offered to the market, which are frequently differ-entiated by the modified attributes they offer the consumer. Manyof these are being marketed in terms of the benefits they offer forconsumer health as well as the potential to reduce the risk of dis-eases.Someofthesenewfoodproductdevelopmentshavebeenla-belled as ‘functional foods’ (e.g. Siró et al., 2008).Inprinciple,functionalfoodshavethepotentialtoimprovepop-ulation health in line with the objectives identified by nationalpublic health strategies, because the increased consumption of functionalingredientsinbakeryproductsimpliesthat thequantityof fibre in the diet, especially whole grains, increases. Whole graincereals are an important component of a healthy balanced dietcontainingarangeof macronutrients(fat, carbohydrates andfibre)and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients)(Dewettinck et al., 2008). Consuming whole grain foods has beenshown to prevent several different, fatal and prominent non-com-municablediseases,suchasType2DiabetesMellitus,Cardiovascu-lar Disease and certain cancers (Anderson, 2003, and Hellyer and Haddock-Fraser, 2011). It has been estimated that a total of 113,836 deaths per year in the UK could potentially be reducedby the consumption of whole grains and the alteration of lifestylechoices (Mozaffarian et al., 2008). However, consumers are reluc-tant to alter their eating habits, even when they know that theremaybe detrimental consequences to their health in the future(Williamson et al., 2000).Although consumers and health professionals have displayedpositive preferences for functional food in general, there is evi-dence that consumers differ in the extent to which they buy spe-cific food products with functional ingredients, especially bakeryproducts.Breadhas recentlybecomeavehicleforfunctionalingre-dients,forexample,withtheintroductionofomega3fattyacids.Inaddition, whole grains naturally contain functional ingredients,including phytochemicals (phytic acid, glutathione, and phytoster-ols), as well as dietary fibre (Inulin and beta-glucan), which yieldhealthbenefits,whichcouldnotbeconsumedinwhitebreadalter-natives (Sidhu et al., 2007).Although there is little difficulty including functional ingredi-ents in bakery products, whether the resulting functional productmeetsconsumerdemandsislessclear.Comparedtodairyproductscurrent consumption of bakery functional products, specificallybread, is relatively low. Indeed, even with advances in bread as a‘functional food’ there are various reasons why consumers mightbeunwillingtoadopttheseproducts.Siróetal.(2008)observethatthe acceptance of functional foods is conditional on the product 0306-9192/$ - see front matter   2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.02.005 ⇑ Corresponding author at: School of Economics, University of Kent, Kent,Canterbury CT2 7NP, United Kingdom. Tel.: +44 1227 823513. E-mail addresses:  i.m.fraser@kent.ac.uk (I. Fraser), janet.haddock-fraser@canterbury.ac.uk (J. Haddock-Fraser).Food Policy 37 (2012) 232–245 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Food Policy journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol  anddataindicatesthatconsumersarelesslikelytoeatwholegrainbread compared to other types of grain (Hoare et al., 2004). Tocombat the issues of non-adoption one approach the food manu-facturingindustrycantakeistoincludebeneficialfunctionalingre-dients (e.g., Inulin) within white bread.This research examines the effect of different levels of informa-tionthroughtheacceptanceandwillingnesstopay(WTP)usinganexperimentalfoodauction.Theauctionrequiredparticipantstobidover a selection of sandwiches made from different types of bread.The experiment was designed to focus on differences in (i) respon-dents’WTPfordifferenttypesofbread;(ii)thelevelofinformationrelatingtohealthimpactsbids;and(iii)thespecifichealthclaimef-fectsthebidsreceived.Eventhoughexperimentalauctionsarelab-oratory based, real products and money are exchanged, providingthe individual an incentive to reveal the real value of the productbeing studied and as a result reduce excessive hypothetical bias.In addition, having consumers pay money during the auction thebidsplacedmaybetterreflectactualpreferencesthananattitudinalsurvey, as there are consequences to over and underbidding.There already exist several papers in the literature that havedeveloped conceptual models to explain the relationship betweenconsumer valuation of products and information provision in rela-tion to food (e.g., Ippolito and Mathios, 1990; Teisl et al., 2001, andLusk et al., 2004). Ippolito and Mathios provided an importantseminal contribution to this literature that subsequent papersdrawupon. For example, the model presented by Lusk et al. exam-ines howconsumers’ valuation changes as a result of receiving po-sitive information. However, like Teisl et al. we note that the valueof additional information should be greater for an individual whohas a lower level of knowledge prior to the new information beingrevealed.The structure of the paper is as follows. In Section 2 we brieflyreview the literature on health and food with a specific focus onbread as well as functional ingredients. In Section 3 we describeand explain our experimental auction. Then in Section 4 we exam-inethedatageneratedbyourauctionandpresenttheresultsofouranalysis. Finally, in Section 5 we conclude. Literature review There is a rapidly growing literature on the importance of func-tional ingredients (e.g., Cox et al., 2007; Siró et al., 2008), and inparticular fibre and whole grains in relation to consumer health(e.g., Bitzios et al., 2011). There is also an unrelated literature onthe design, implementation and evaluation of experimental auc-tions in relation to food and health (Lusk et al., 2004; Rozanet al., 2004).Before we consider the antecedent literature on experimentalauctions it is important to understand how health and nutritionalinformation can influence consumer choice in relation to func-tional ingredients, whole grains and bread. As would be expectedthere are many diverse papers dealing with this topic in the liter-ature. A number of these studies involve the consumption of foodproducts as part of the experimental design. For example, Mialonet al. (2002) assessed responses to the provision of informationabout the fibre content of bread and English muffins. Participantswere asked to rate six products on acceptance, sensory, healthandnutritionvariables.Theyfoundthatahealthyperceptionaboutnutrition could be influenced by written information. Kihlberget al. (2005) examined four different bread products based on theproduction of the flour. They found that a health claim about cho-lesterol only became significant to the reported liking of the breadproduct when it was combined with the flour’s srcin. Also likingincreased for bread produced from conventional flour but not forthe organic flour. Annett et al. (2008) also examined consumeracceptance of different flour types (i.e. organic and conventional)and the effect of health information. Their results demonstratedthathealthinformationincombinationwithsensoryevaluationin-creased liking for organic bread, whereas environmental informa-tion had no effect. In these papers participants have not had topurchase the products being examined. Also many whole grainfood products already have health claims and so comparison of no health information with health information is no longer practi-cal and so the differences in the claims used should be examined.Mancino et al. (2008) provide a different set of insights byexamining why consumers increased their consumption of wholegrains in the US after the publication of the 2005 Dietary Guide-lines. The insight they provide draws on Ippolito and Mathios(1990), in that it is suggested that public policy lead to food man-ufacturers introducing new and differentiated products that con-sumers readily adopted. However, Golan and Unnevehr (2008)note that competition between food manufacturers in terms of health attributes need not result in healthier food products enter-ing the market place.Wenowturntotheexperimentalauctionliteraturewheretherehave been many food related applications (e.g. Poole et al., 2007,andRousuetal.,2007).Anadvantageofemployinganexperimentalauction is that the provision of information to participants can beisolatedfromothereffects. Asaresult, auctions haveprovenpopu-lar asamethodtoexaminehowinformationprovisionimpactsthepotential WTP of consumers for food products. For example,Marette et al. (2010) consider how information about functionalingredients can influence WTP for a fortified yoghurt drink. Theirresults show a positive impact of information that details choles-terol reducing properties. Importantly, they find this effect forparticipants regardless of having cholesterol problems themselves.Alsothey note that auctionparticipants place less emphasis onthenegative impacts and more on the positive impacts of a functionalfood. This observation relates to the findings of  Naylor et al.(2009) and confirmatory bias.Turning to a bread-specific example, an interesting auctionexperiment that employed baguettes is presented by Rozan et al.(2004), whoexaminedconsumerresponsestoinformationrelatingto food safety. Bread was selectedfor use in this auctionbecause itis among the most frequently purchased items by households.Employing the second-price Vickrey auction and the Becker–deG-root–Marschak (BDM) procedure they found that product pricesincreased if the product is certified as safe, in this case from expo-suretoheavymetals.Interestingly,Rozanetal.foundthattheBDMprocedure yielded higher bids than the second-price Vickrey auc-tion, which is in contrast to the earlier findings reported in the lit-erature. Ginon et al. (2009) also employ baguettes, except theyexamine how nutritional information impacted WTP. The experi-ment provided specific information about fibre content and thenadditional information about the nutritional effects of fibre. LikeRozan et al. they employed the BDM. The main finding of this re-search was that nutritional information about potential healthbenefits did not induce a significant change in WTP. But, whenthe bread was explicitly labelled ‘‘source of fibre’’ this did increaseWTP, although the magnitude of the effect was small.Another informative study by Hobbs et al. (2006) estimatedconsumer WTP for bison compared to beef, with bison offeringhealth-related attributes including being lower in fat. Employingsandwichesasthefoodtodeliverthetwotypesofmeat,employinga Vickrey second-price auction, they found no significant differ-ence in WTP for bison (a luxury item) over beef. Indeed, ensuringconsumers had a positive eating experience was in fact moreimportant than the health information provided. Another auctionemploying sandwiches was conducted by Drichoutis et al. (2008).This study used three types of sandwich: 6-in. sub sandwich; awrapped pita sandwich; and a Mediterranean type sandwich. N.E. Hellyer et al./Food Policy 37 (2012) 232–245  233  Employing a Vickrey second-price auction, in round one, partici-pants could examine and taste the sandwiches. In the next roundtheyundertookthesameactivityexceptthistimenutritionalinfor-mation was provided. They estimate WTP by employing a Tobitspecification with upper and lower limits, finding that the provi-sion of information matters and is indicated in their results viahigher WTP estimates. Gaps in the literature Researchwithintheliteraturehasfoundthatingeneralindivid-uals are WTP for functional food or food containing functionalingredients as long as other important properties of the productare not compromised e.g. hedonic characteristics. In addition,experimental auctions have shown that the effect of informationprovisionrelatingtohealthbenefitsassociatedwithafoodproductcan yield an increase in WTP as long as other important propertiesare not compromised.It is also important to note that the type of information treat-ment employed in experimental auctions is frequently unrealistic,as the auction moves froma situation of no written information tofullinformation.Additionallyexistingfoodproductswillbesubjectto an evolution of information, such as, basic nutritional informa-tion, specificnutritionalinformationandthenadditionalhealthre-lated claims.Another limitation of existing experimental auctions, especiallythose that consider food products is that they have not attemptedto control for issues related to eating behaviours. It would also ap-pear to be the casethat no effort has beenmade to control for sub- jects level of hunger or mood whilst participating in the auction.Bothoftheselimitationsareaddressedintheexperimentalauctionreported in this paper. Experimental auction design and implementation  Auction design Three focus groups attended by 14 people in total informed thedevelopmentofthefoodauctionprocess,includingtheorderoftheauction rounds (seeing the product, nutritional information andtastingtobesimilartoapurchasesituation)andtheselectedsand-wich filling. They were recruited from staff and students at theUniversity of Kent and advertised using various mailing lists. Anincentive of tea, coffee and biscuits was provided to all those thatattended.As a result of the focus groups a cheese ploughman’s sandwichwas identified as the most suitable for the food auction, because itdid not prohibit the participation of vegetarians. Other sandwichfillings were discussed including individuals having a choice of their preferred sandwich. However, this was not a possibility dueto logistical restrictions of having to prepare the sandwiches onthe morning of the auction. The choice of the cheese ploughman’ssandwichisalsosupportedbyinformationpresentedbytheBritishSandwich Association (2009) who identified that a cheese plough-man’s sandwich was in the top ten favourite fillings in 2008 and2009 for the UK population.For each auction, five variants of the cheese ploughman’s sand-wiches were made, each only varying the bread type: White (W),Whole Grain (WG), Half White/Half Whole Grain (HH), WholeGrain Granary (WGG) and a White bread substitute for Functional(Inulin) bread, communicated to participants as the ‘functional’bread product (FF). Inulin bread is only available in small experi-mental batches and due to logistical difficulties it was not actuallyused in the food auction. White bread was used as a substitute forthe functional product as they share the same taste and texturecharacteristics. The nutritional information presented with the‘functional’ bread was based on white bread but with adjusted fi-bre content.All sandwiches were prepared using a standard recipe weighedby electronic scales on the morning of the auction to ensure fresh-ness.Thisalsominimisedanyvariationbetweenthesandwichestoallowparticipantstobeabletoidentifythedifferenceasaresultof the bread type rather than the sandwich contents. Each sandwichconsisted of two slices of medium sliced bread, 6g of vegetablefat spread, one prepared pre-sliced mild Edam cheese slice, 10gof small chunk sandwich pickle and 20g prepared iceberg lettuce.The aim of the experiment was to determine the difference inWTPdueto breadtypeandhealthclaim. The generic healthclaimspurelyidentifiedifthefibrecontentofthebreadproductwashigh-erthanthewhitebread.Thespecificwholegrainhealthclaimusedthe Joint Health Claim Initiative (2002) approved claim, whilst thespecific health claimfor the functional bread was provided by Pre-mier Foods to be tested.For this experiment a Vickrey second price auction with a fullbidding process was used. This choice of auction mechanism ispopular and relative performance compared to alternatives suchas BDM is good as demonstrated by Rozan et al. (2004). Further-more, this auction mechanism performs well in induced andnon-induced value auctions, it is easy to explain to participantsand deals with ‘on margin’ bidders (Lusk and Shogren, 2007). Inthe case of pre-packed sandwiches, they can be considered an ‘onmargin’ product, because the majority of working adults are likelyto have an appreciation of the market value, even if they do notregularlypurchasetheproduct.Otherauctiontechniquesincludingthe BDM and random  n th price auction are less well suited for onmarginproducts.Furthermore,theBDMandrandom n thpriceauc-tions would have required an unknown number of sandwiches tobe made and held in reserve for the end of the auction when thebindingproductandroundareselected,increasingwasteandasso-ciated costs.Full bidding was selected to maximise participant engagementand interest in the auction process, and also reduce the amountof sandwiches required per auction, minimising waste. The alter-native to full bidding is endowment bidding, but it can introducebias via researchers’ choice of the initial product provided to par-ticipants. This can influence the bids for the second product on of-fer (e.g. change from the product provided to a different product).Participants may be adverse to loss and unwilling to risk exchang-ing the endowment for an alternative product (Lusk and Shogren,2007).We decided not to employ a reference price or reveal bids asrounds progressed during the auction as both approaches havebeen shown to effect WTP estimates. For example, Bernard andHe(2010)showthatreferencepricescanaffectbids, whereasDric-houtis et al. (2008) showed higher bids were received when refer-ence price information was provided versus no information. Inaddition, Corrigan and Rousu (2011) report that when comparinga second price Vickrey auction with the BDM that with the secondprice auction participants change bids in the manner predicted bytheory, but this does not happen if price feedback is employed. In-deed references cited therein recommendthat in repeatedsecond-price auctions that there should be no price feedback. In the auc-tion we report there is no price feedback between rounds.At least 10 potential participants were invited to each auction.Unknown to the participants the auctions were divided into twodistinct experimental treatments. The difference in treatments oc-curred during round two of the auction where participants re-ceived nutritional information. Either, a specific or non-specifichealth claim about the products being auctioned was also pro-vided. Each time the auction was conducted it alternated betweenthe experimental treatments, with each participant being ran- 234  N.E. Hellyer et al./Food Policy 37 (2012) 232–245  domly invited to one of the treatments. The order the sandwicheswere presented to participants varied in each auction to removeany issues associated with a location affect. Overall, there was aslight over attendance at the specific health information auctions(six more participants).  Auction protocol The same researcher conducted a total of 12 auctions over a1-month period using the following protocol: Step 1:  On arrival all participants completed and signed a con-sent form, and a form committing them to buy the product if theywon the auction. To provide anonymity each participant was pro-videdwithauniqueID.Eachparticipantreceived£5fortakingpartin the auction. £5 was chosen because of the cost of a shop boughtsandwichgenerallyliesbetween£2and£4dependingonitsfilling.If the participant won the auction they would be expected to usethis money to purchase the sandwich. Step 2:  Participants completed a Dutch Eating Behaviour Ques-tionnaire (DEBQ) and a questionnaire about their current hungerand mood levels using Visual Analogue Scales (VASs).TheDEBQasksindividualsa setof 33questionstoidentifytheireating behaviours: ‘restrained’, ‘emotional’ and‘external’ (vanStri-en et al., 1986). 1 Restrained eating theory combines the behaviouralconsequences of emotional and external eating formed as a result of dieting. Dieters (restrained eaters) can actually over consume calo-ries when experiencing dis-inhibiting factors. It is a requirement of the auction that the individual tastes the sandwich and for one par-ticipant to purchase the sandwich. Whilst this experiment does noteasily allow the individual to over consume food, it is possible that aperson who has been identified as a ‘restrained’ eater may not placea bid that reflects their true valuation of the products on offer, as thedis-inhibiting factors have not been removed from the situation. The emotional eating concept is based on psychosomatic the-ory: an individuals‘ normal reaction to emotional states would beto lose their appetite, however, some people respond by eatingmore (van Strien et al., 1986). As the auction is still an experimen-tal procedure and does not fully reflect a real life situation there isthe potential that participants of the auction would experiencestress or anxiety, which could potentially impact their bid to behigher or lower than the value they really place on the product.Externality theory addresses the issue of external eating, whichdeals with an individual’s response to food stimuli regardless of their level of satiety. In this case the individual participating inthe food auction maybe influenced by other participants aroundthemto over value the sandwich to ensure that they have a higherchanceof being the purchaser at the end of the experiment. There-fore, the three concepts were recorded as control variables for useduring data analysis to explore if the concepts of restrained, emo-tional and external eating influenced the bids placed during theauction.Participants’ mood and hunger was also assessed using a stan-dard series of Visual Analogue Scales (VASs) designed by Flintet al. (2000) and Martins et al. (2007). Participants were asked to place a series of vertical marks on a 10cm line between two ex-tremes (e.g. ‘‘I amnot hungry at all’’/‘‘I have never been more hun-gry’’).VAS’sareareliableindicatorofparticipants’desiretoeatasaresult of howhungry the individual is and are suited for use underexperimental conditions (Flint et al., 2000). This research used thehunger VAS fromFlint et al. because it was easy to explain and is areliablepredictor of participantsdesire to eat (andthereforepossi-bly bid higher). The mood rating employed the same format as thehunger questionnaire following Martins et al. All the questionsasked on the VAS can be seen in Table 4. Step 3:  Participants were then fully briefed on the procedure of the auction method using a PowerPoint presentation and script, toensure consistency. Within this presentation, information aboutthe auction technique was discussed. Participants were informedabout the dominant strategy ensuring they were able to bid theirtrue value for the products on offer. During this time participantswere shown examples of bidding from an auction scenario. Step 4:  A training auction was conducted using crisps and fol-lowed the same number of rounds as the actual sandwich auction.This auction, used a different good to train participants, allowingparticipants to understand bidding behaviour without changingthe bids received for the sandwiches. As with the actual auction,once all the bids had been collected they were placed into ascend-ingpriceorder.Thepersonwiththehighestbidwasrequiredtopaythesecondhighestprice.Atthispointparticipantswereallowedtotalk and ask the facilitator questions about the auction procedure.The useof the training auctionmeant thatmultipleroundsusingthe product of interest was deemed unnecessary to ensure partici-pants were familiar with the auction mechanism. Some studies em-ploy multiple rounds within auctions to help participantsunderstandthemechanism.However,thislearningrequiresfeedbackaboutthebidsreceived,whichintroducesaffiliationaffectsandthere-fore,changestheindividual’struebid(LuskandShogren,2007). Step 5:  The main auction was now undertaken. During the auc-tion, each participant was sat separately. Participants could notconfer or talk during the actual bidding process.The auction was split into three rounds, which followed thesame order: Round One  – Participants arrive and depending on which of the12 auction sessions they attended they are placed in one of twoexperimental treatments. In round one this selection is not re-vealed. Individually participants were shown five pictures of thesandwiches and asked to rate them based on appearance on a se-ven-point likert scale. Once this information was collected eachparticipant hadtosubmitasealedbidforeachof thefiveproducts. Round Two  – Both experimental treatments are now providedwith the same nutritional information about the sandwiches(worked out using the values provided by each manufacturer andadjusted for weight). The nutritional information was presentedto the participants as per 100g and per sandwich (two slices of bread with filling) and used the UK traffic light systemcolour cod-ing for four key components (fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt)(Food Standards Agency, 2010). 2 The key difference in information provision is related to healthclaims. One experimental treatment received a non-specific healthclaimabout the bread. The non-specific health claimfor any breadtype containing whole grain was:‘ Naturally Rich in Whole Grains ’.and for the functional product:‘ Source of Fibre ’.In the second experimental treatment, participants received aspecific health claim about the bread. The specific health claimfor whole grain bread types was: 1 The DEBQ was constructed from three pre-existing questionnaires (EatingPatterns Questionnaire, The Fragenbogen für Latente Adipositas and the EatingBehaviour Inventory), which identified 100 items that have been used to measureeating behaviour. The questionnaire was trialled and redefined through a period of studies to reduce the number of questions down to the 33 items it now uses. This wasachieved by using factor analysis, goodness of fit (orthogonal congruence rotation)and internal consistency (Cronbach alpha). 2 UK consumer understanding of the traffic light system of nutritional labelling iswell established in the literature, e.g., Balcombe et al. (2010). N.E. Hellyer et al./Food Policy 37 (2012) 232–245  235
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