Organic food products are often perceived as healthier by consumers, but the question remains if organic labels might influence consumer's perception of specific sensory attributes and emotional associations and to which extent this effect goes beyond the lab context. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the potential effects of organic labels on the overall liking and emotional and sensory profiling, comparing measurements obtained from a CLT and HUT test. In this study, 76 consumers participated at a central location test (CLT) and 75 during a home-use-test (HUT) to examine the effect of organic labeling on pairs of three food products (i.e. yogurt, potato chips and juice). While the same food product was used, one sample of the pair was labelled as conventional and the other as organic. Results showed that providing an organic label leads to a higher overall liking, willingness to pay and lower kcal estimation of a food product regardless of the evaluation context. Also, the perception of sensory attributes was altered by providing the organic labeling, but mainly for the juice and yogurt sample. Moreover, organic labeling evoked more positive emotions and less negative emotions of the food products. While previous research indicated that organic labeling might affect consumer's perception of food products, this study shows that this effect is consistent regardless of the evaluation context (HUT and CLT). Although some context effects occurred on the emotional profiling of the food products, more research is warranted given the different eating conditions when conducting HUT. Furthermore, policy makers should be aware of the health halo effect as consumers tend to significantly lower the kcal estimations when an organic label is provided.
Keywords: Caloric estimations; Context; Emotion; Health halo; Organic food; Rate-all-that-apply (RATA); Sensory profile; Willingness-to-pay (WTP).
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