"The Good, The Bad, and the Minimum Tolerable": Exploring Expectations of Institutional Food

Foods. 2021 Apr 3;10(4):767. doi: 10.3390/foods10040767.


There is a tendency towards greater expectations of consumer goods and services in society-what was once judged as ideal may now be a bare minimum. This presents a challenge for food providers in the upcoming decades. As the more demanding baby boomer cohort ages, health institutions of the future will face challenges meeting their food expectations. The purpose of this study was to explore expectation type dynamics and function with updated empirical material on aging consumers expectations of institutional food and advance our current understanding of how consumers evaluate their expectations. This qualitative study employed in-depth semi structured interviews with 14 informants between the age of 58-79. Content analysis was performed to capture the informants' food expectations based on the expectation hierarchy proposed by Santos and Boote. Analyzing the content and relationship between different expectation types led to three main findings: expectation functions and content, interconnectedness, and the role of affect. Based on the findings, this study contributes by making several propositions for future research and proposes an updated expectancy-disconfirmation model. Importantly, this study provides novel knowledge that can help health institutions understand and meet aging consumers expectations of institutional food.

Keywords: aging consumers; food expectations; health services.