Food choice: the battle between package, taste and consumption situation

Appetite. 2014 Sep;80:109-13. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.05.006. Epub 2014 May 15.


The present study compared how intrinsic (sensory) and extrinsic (packaging) product properties influence actual food choice in combination with the concept of product appropriateness in a specific consumption context. Food choice of seven test products was measured in three breakfast sessions within a simulated cafeteria setting with subsequent product consumption. Test products were five breakfast drinks and two dessert products considered as inappropriate for breakfast. One hundred and three participants took part in a blind taste session, after which they chose one out of the seven foods to consume for breakfast. In a second session (familiar package session), the same participants based their choice on the package of the seven foods they tasted in the first session. An additional group of 65 participants took part in a third naïve package session, where they chose just on the basis of package without being previously exposed to the foods. Results showed that food choices in the naïve package session were guided by the package that labelled the products as "breakfast product". Food choices in the blind session were strongly correlated (r = 0.8) with the liking of the products. Food choice in the "familiar package session" lay between the blind and naïve package session. It is concluded that food choice in a simulated cafeteria setting is guided by extrinsic (package) as well as intrinsic (sensory) properties and both can act as a cue for product appropriateness given a specific consumption context. Depending on the salience of either intrinsic or extrinsic properties during the choice moment their impact on choice is stronger.

Keywords: Appropriateness; Consumption situation; Extrinsic properties; Food choice; Intrinsic properties.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Packaging*
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Taste*
  • Young Adult