Consumers' attitudes regarding the link between frozen and fresh vegetables and health
Van der Walt, Emdri Maria
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Vegetables and fruit appear to confer protection against various diseases, but most adults in South Africa eat substantially less than the recommended amounts. Many barriers and factors that influence vegetable consumption have been identified in the literature. One major barrier is the perishability of vegetables. Frozen vegetables can be a useful way in encouraging greater intakes. Some consumers are, however, of the opinion that processing destroy nutrients to a large extent. There is, therefore, a lack of understanding of the freezing process. Research on the attitudes of consumers towards frozen vegetables in South Africa is limited. Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the attitudes of consumers regarding the link between frozen and fresh vegetables and health and the attributes of frozen vegetables. Subjects/Setting: One thousand nine hundred and ninety seven South African respondents, representative of the four major race groups of South Africa (whites, blacks, coloureds and Indians) were randomly chosen from metropolitan areas from the nine provinces in South Africa. Questionnaires, existing of 17 food-related sections, including subsections on vegetables and health, were designed by researchers in co-operation with business partners. MARKINOR, a market research company, was contracted to collect the data. Respondents were questioned regarding their attitudes towards the link between frozen and fresh vegetables and health. Statistical analysis performed: The quantitative data produced by the survey was analysed by using the StatisticaⓇ-programme in order to generate the relevant tabulations, descriptive statistics and statistical tests. Results: Overall, the attitudes of consumers towards frozen vegetables were found to be negative. Practical and statistically significant attitude differences towards frozen vegetables were found between most variables. Results from this study revealed that different levels of education, age and gender do not have a big influence on consumer's attitudes towards frozen vegetables. However, practical and statistically significant differences were found between the various LSM (Living Standards Measure) groups, especially with regard to the convenience of frozen vegetables. Results also indicated that Indians, the age group 61+ and males were the most negative towards frozen vegetables. Almost 75% of all consumers indicated that they never eat frozen vegetables. Only 1% of consumers in the LSM group 2 own a fridge/freezer. An alarmingly 26% of all consumers indicated that they are not convinced that vegetables are healthy. Application/Conclusions: Nutrition professionals should use these findings to target messages in health-promotion programmes to increase the overall consumption of vegetables. The use of frozen vegetables by consumers with frozen storage facilities should be promoted aggressively. Consumers also need practical advice on how to overcome the barriers to dietary change. Nutrition counseling efforts should also be aimed specifically at increasing frozen vegetable consumption among targeted subgroups, particularly Indians, males and the age group 61+. It is strongly recommended that suitable measuring instruments be developed for assessing the knowledge and attitude of South Africans towards vegetable and fruit consumption and the ability of individuals to improve their health. The results of this study may prove to be very useful in this regard.
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