Research Article Received: 25 June 2014

Revised: 8 December 2014

Accepted article published: 19 December 2014

Published online in Wiley Online Library: 9 February 2015

( DOI 10.1002/jsfa.7055

Effect of sustainability information on consumers’ liking of freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) Julia Siqueira Simoes,a* Eliane Teixeira Mársico,a Adriano Gomes da Cruz,b Mônica Queiroz de Freitas,a Laís Higino Doroa and Carlos Adam Conte-Juniora Abstract BACKGROUND: This research aimed to investigate whether consumer acceptance is affected by information on sustainable practices on the product label. Hedonic evaluations of freshwater prawns were performed by 80 consumers under three aspects: the blind condition – consumers taste samples without information; expected – without tasting samples, consumers evaluated the message ’Freshwater prawns were grown using sustainable practices, reducing environmental impacts caused by traditional breeding’; informed – in which prawns were tasted and the card evaluated. RESULTS: For the entire consumer group, it was observed that the message about sustainability on packaging increased freshwater prawn acceptability (8.25, expected condition (E) versus 6.75, blind condition (B)). High scores were observed under all three test conditions, ranging from 6 (like slightly) to 9 (like extremely), on a 9-point scale. CONCLUSION: It can be concluded that the use of sustainable information can influence consumers’ perception and increase their preference toward freshwater prawns, and even increase the sensory attributes of the product. © 2014 Society of Chemical Industry Keywords: label; acceptability; assimilation; environment; aquaculture; giant prawn



In recent years information on food products has become more important, reflecting an increased interest among consumers in the origin and production methods of foods.1,2,3 Several studies have demonstrated that information can have a large impact on consumers’ perception and liking of food products.4,5 On-package information about food production methods is increasingly relevant for consumers who want to differentiate between conventional products and products with distinctive advantages related to moral and health aspects.6 This type of product information is also a promising instrument for policymakers in government and industry who aim to foster sustainable consumption and production patterns.7 A recent survey of Brazilian people showed that information about environmental responsibility is perceived by most consumers (53%). However, many of these believe this to be a marketing strategy.8 Consumers evaluate their overall liking of food products by the perception of their sensory properties. However, much research has shown that, in everyday life, consumer likes and food choices also depend on non-sensory attributes, such as product information (brand, price, nutritional knowledge), attitudes and beliefs (such as convenience or health properties) or past experiences.5,9,10 Therefore, the importance of these factors for food companies is increasing.11 J Sci Food Agric 2015; 95: 3160–3164

On the other hand, sustainable products could have improved purchase by emphasizing personal relevance such as the interest in sustainability and sustainable production, and sustainable consumption has increased at all levels of agriculture and food production.12 Achieving sustainable development includes strategies to meet economic (profit), social (people), and environmental (planet) goals.13 Although consumer interest in sustainable products may be growing, sustainable food markets remain niche markets, attracting consumers with a specific profile. In general, about 30% of consumers have a positive attitude towards sustainable consumption.14 These consumers claim to pay attention to ecological packaging and the origin of food products, and regularly buy sustainable organic food products. Increase in the consumption of fish has a strong impact on ecosystem health, and non-sustainable practices will inevitably

Correspondence to: Julia Siqueira Simoes, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), Rua Vital Brazil Filho, 64, Niterói, 24.230-340, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. E-mail: [email protected]

a Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), Niterói, 24.230-340, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil b Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Rio de Janeiro (IFRJ), Mestrado Profissional em Ciência e Tecnologia de Alimentos (PGCTA), Maracanã, 20270-021, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

© 2014 Society of Chemical Industry

Sustainability on consumers’ acceptance of prawns lead to the decrease if not extinction of fish stock and therefore make fish consumption, with its health-supporting properties, difficult or impossible for future generations.15,16,17 Although seafood is the most highly traded food internationally, the marine fish catch has plateaued and may even be in decline, while the size of the human population is still increasing. This leaves the expansion of aquaculture as the only way to maintain, or even increase, global per capita consumption of fish.18 Several shrimp-farming ventures collapsed in the 1990s, owing to a degraded environment and disease.19 Because of this, aquafarmers realized that shrimp farming is likely to be in conflict with sustainable development.20 Freshwater prawn farming has gained recognition in the last decade because of its low environmental impact, suitability to small-scale systems, compliance with the precepts of sustainable aquaculture, economic viability, export potential and use of a polyculture system, thus diversifying income sources and increasing profitability.21,22,23 For these reasons, the freshwater prawn is considered a more sustainable product, achieving expectation for a range of markets and consumers. In this context, we aimed to study the effect of information on sustainable practices on labels of freshwater prawn products and its influence on consumer acceptance.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Consumers Eighty subjects, all consumers of shrimp, participated in the study. All participants (henceforth ’consumers’) were students or university staff and ranged from 18 to 65 years old. Concerning gender, 46% of the participants were male and 54% were female. Most of them (67%) were young people between 18 and 30 years old, followed by adults between 31 and 49 years old (23%) and 10% of judges were 50 years old. They were selected on the basis their interest and availability to participate in the study, as well as for not having allergic reactions to shrimp product. Samples For sensory evaluation freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) were used, obtained from Santa Helena Aquaculture (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) and stored at 0 ± 1 ∘ C until consumer evaluation (within 24 h). For testing, 200 samples of prawns were cooked in 1% (w/v) salt solution (Cisne, Refinaria Nacional de Sal SA, São Paulo, Brazil) for 3 min and served immediately. Samples of peeled prawns (portions of 25 g) were served at 60 ± 5 ∘ C on white plastic dishes coded with three-digit random numbers. Mineral water and crackers were provided for mouth rinsing during the hedonic test.

J Sci Food Agric 2015; 95: 3160–3164

Table 1. Summary of the experimental design for the consumer sensory study


Stimulus presentation


Freshwater prawn


Information about sustainability Freshwater prawn + information about sustainability


Type of evaluation

Type of rating

Tasting without information Expectation

Perceived liking (B)

Tasting with information

Actual liking (I)

Expected liking (E)

Overall acceptability of the samples in all hedonic tests was evaluated using a nine-point hedonic scale ranging from 1 (’dislike extremely’) to 9 (’like extremely’). The consumers were not informed that the freshwater prawn samples in the two hedonic tests were the same. Data analysis The statistical analysis used in this study followed a method previously applied to dry sausage.9 Student’s t-test (P < 0.05) was carried out to detect significant differences between expected and blind (E − B), informed and blind (I − B) and informed and expected (I − E) conditions for each sample. In addition, to study the proportion of consumers showing assimilation, contrast or no effect of sustainability information, the relationship between I − B and E − B values for each sample and for each consumer was calculated. An assimilation effect was revealed when (I − B) / (E − B) > 0 and a contrast effect when (I − B) / (E − B) < 0. All of these analyses were performed using XLSTAT for Windows version 2013.1 (Addinsoft, Paris, France). In order to test the differences between expected, perceived and actual preference, responses to each test condition (tasting without information, only information (no tasting) and tasting with information) were grouped. Differences between the three test conditions were examined by the chi-square test. Frequency distribution for hedonic results was analyzed as follows: range 1 (acceptance zone) included scores 6–9 (between the hedonic terms ’like slightly’ and ’like extremely’), indicating that consumers liked the sample; range 2 (rejection zone) included scores 1–5 (between the hedonic terms ’dislike extremely’ and ’indifferent’), indicating that consumers disliked the sample. After this division, the results were transformed into percentages (frequency analysis).24

RESULTS Table 2 shows the results of hedonic evaluation of freshwater prawn under three conditions: blind (B), expected (E) and informed (I). In general, high scores were observed on all conditions of the test, with scores ranging from 6 to 9 (acceptance zone, located between the hedonic terms ’like slightly’ and ’like extremely’), suggesting that consumers liked the sample.24 Results similar to this hedonic evaluation showed that the type of information significantly affected the expected liking.25 Significant differences were observed between liking scores in the expected condition (E) and the blind condition (B) (8.25 vs. 6.57, P < 0.0001), suggesting that disconfirmation of expectations occurred. It was also observed that sustainability information on the packaging provided an increased acceptance of freshwater

© 2014 Society of Chemical Industry


Consumer test All consumers evaluated the freshwater prawns under three conditions: blind, expected and informed, as explained in Table 1. In the first session (blind condition, B), consumers tasted samples and evaluated overall acceptability of prawns without any additional information. In second session, participants received only the information ’The freshwater prawns were grown using sustainable practices, reducing environmental impacts caused by traditional breeding’ (printed on a card), without tasting samples. The consumers were asked if the information provided would affect the purchase if it were included in the package and to rate prawns’ acceptability (expected condition, E). After that, test subjects were simultaneously given the information and corresponding product to be tasted (informed condition, I).

JS Simoes et al.

Table 2. Results of sensory evaluations of freshwater prawn with different preference under three test conditions (N = 80) D Conditiona B E I

Acceptance scoresb 6.57 ± 1.61 8.25 ± 0.90 7.41 ± 1.05

E−B – 1.68 –

I−B – – 0.84 Assimilatond

I−E – −0.84 Negative disconfirmationc Incompletee


Effect of sustainability information on consumers' liking of freshwater prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergii).

This research aimed to investigate whether consumer acceptance is affected by information on sustainable practices on the product label. Hedonic evalu...
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