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Appetite 52 (2009) 345354

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Research report

Consumer-driven denition of traditional food products and innovation

in traditional foods. A qualitative cross-cultural study
Luis Guerrero a,*, Maria Dolors Guardia a, Joan Xicola a, Wim Verbeke b, Filiep Vanhonacker b,
Sylwia Zakowska-Biemans c, Marta Sajdakowska c, Claire Sulmont-Rosse d, Sylvie Issanchou d,
Michele Contel e, M. Luisa Scalvedi e, Britt Signe Granli f, Margrethe Hersleth f
IRTA Monells, Finca Camps i Armet, E-17121 Monells, Spain
Ghent University, Department of Agricultural Economics, Coupure links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
Warsaw University of Life Sciences -SGGW (WULS-SGGW), Department of Organization and Consumption Economics, Nowoursynowska Street 166, 02-787 Warsaw, Poland
INRA, UMR 1129 FLAVIC, F-21000 Dijon, France
PEGroup, Viale Gorizia 25/C, 00198 Rome, Italy
Noma Mat AS, Osloveien 1, 1430 As, Norway


Article history: Traditional food products (TFP) are an important part of European culture, identity, and heritage. In order
Received 23 June 2008 to maintain and expand the market share of TFP, further improvement in safety, health, or convenience is
Received in revised form 13 November 2008 needed by means of different innovations. The aim of this study was to obtain a consumer-driven
Accepted 14 November 2008
denition for the concept of TFP and innovation and to compare these across six European countries
(Belgium, France, Italy, Norway, Poland and Spain) by means of semantic and textual statistical analyses.
Keywords: Twelve focus groups were performed, two per country, under similar conditions. The transcriptions
Traditional food products
obtained were submitted to an ordinary semantic analysis and to a textual statistical analysis using the
Innovation in traditional food products
software ALCESTE. Four main dimensions were identied for the concept of TFP: habit-natural, origin-
Cross-cultural comparison
Focus group locality, processing-elaboration and sensory properties. Five dimensions emerged around the concept of
Textual statistical analysis innovation: novelty-change, variety, processing-technology, origin-ethnicity and convenience. TFP were
similarly perceived in the countries analysed, while some differences were detected for the concept of
innovation. Semantic and statistical analyses of the focus groups led to similar results for both concepts.
In some cases and according to the consumers point of view the application of innovations may damage
the traditional character of TFP.
2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction challenge to further improve the safety, healthiness, and con-

venience of their products by means of different innovations,
Traditional food products (TFP) constitute an important which will enable them to maintain and expand their market share
element of European culture, identity, and heritage (Committee in a highly competitive and increasingly global food market. It is,
of the Regions, 1996; Ilbery & Kneafsey, 1999) contributing to the however, important to get an insight into consumers perceptions,
development and sustainability of rural areas, protecting them expectations, and attitudes towards traditional food products and
from depopulation, entailing substantial product differentiation consumers attitudes to innovations related to TFP. A basis for
potential for producers and processors (Avermaete et al., 2004) and exploring these dimensions is a need for denition of the concept
providing ample variety in food choice for consumers. TFP are often of traditional products and innovation related to TFP.
recognised by consumers with characteristics linked to regional There are a few denitions in the literature of the concept of
identity and sensory quality. An important part of TFP is sold under traditional foods. According to Bertozzi (1998) a traditional food
different collective trademarks such as quality labels and, in product is a representation of a group, it belongs to a dened space,
general, consumers show a favourable attitude towards such and it is part of a culture that implies the cooperation of the individuals
products (Guerrero, 2001). However, producers of TFP still face the operating in that territory. Jordana (2000) derived from this
sociological denition the following: In order to be traditional, a
product must be linked to a territory and it must also be part of a set of
* Corresponding author. traditions, which will necessarily ensure its continuity over time. In
E-mail address: lluis.guerrero@irta.es (L. Guerrero). 2006, the European Commission gave the following denition of

0195-6663/$ see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
346 L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354

traditional related to foods: Traditional means proven usage in innovation may diverge depending on the place of residence of the
the community market for a time period showing transmission consumers. Urban consumers might be more prone to reconnect
between generations; this time period should be the one generally with rural roots (Montanari, 1994), while according to Weatherell,
ascribed as one human generation, at least 25 years (EU, 2006). Tregear, and Allinson (2003), rural-based consumers tend to give a
Recently a denition of traditional food has been developed higher priority to civic issues in food choice, exhibit higher levels
through the work of the EuroFIR FP6 Network of Excellence. This is of concern over food provisioning issues, and show greater interest
an elaborative denition, which includes statements about in local foods.
traditional ingredients, traditional composition, and traditional One of the most efcient ways to get preliminary insights into
type of production and/or processing (EuroFIR, 2007; Trichopou- the concept underlying traditional food products, as well as
lou, Soukara, & Vasilopoulou, 2007). In Europe, the only formal innovation from a consumers point of view is by means of
denition found for traditional food products comes from the qualitative research techniques, especially by using focus group
Italian Ministry of Agriculture, that denes TFP as Agrifood discussions (Krueger, 1988). Focus group discussion is a method
products whose methods of processing, storage and ripening are by which a small number of individuals are selected in order to
consolidated with time according to uniform and constant local use obtain information about their reaction to products and/or
(Ministero Agricoltura, 1999). Although these denitions try to concepts (Resurreccion, 1998). However, one of the main
capture the different dimensions of the concept of traditional food disadvantages of this qualitative technique is the subjective
products, there is still one perspective that is missing, namely a interpretation of the results obtained. This caveat requires a
denition of this concept seen from the consumers point of view. careful interpretation made by an expert analyst (Chambers &
Fagerberg (2004) stated that the concept of innovation depends Smith, 1991; Krueger, 1988). It is not always easy to avoid the
on the context, thus requiring a wide range of different denitions. tendency of the analyst to only see or hear those comments that t
However, a common meaning may be identied according to this in with his/her personal expectations and ideas (Dranseld,
author: innovation is typically understood as the successful Morrot, Martin, & Ngapo, 2004). Several alternatives to the
introduction of something new and useful. Moskowitz, Reisner, Itty, analysts subjective interpretation have been proposed in order to
Katz, and Krieger (2006) add the idea of recombination of make the analysis of qualitative information more objective.
components into new blends to the denition of innovation in Guerrero, Colomer, Guardia, Xicola, and Clotet (2000) analysed
food and drinks. For Carayannis, Gonzalez, and Wetter (2003) the frequency of use of different key words by each participant by
innovations are the new products and services that emerge from means of correspondence analysis. However, this approach only
technology. It is, however, important to note that once again, the takes into account a reduced number of words previously selected
consumer perspective is missing in the case of the concept of by the analyst. Reiner (1986) developed a software called ALCESTE
innovation. in order to overcome some of the aforementioned limits. ALCESTE
Proper understanding of consumers feelings and needs is permits the detection of relationships between lexical worlds,
dependent upon clear communication through a common through the analysis of word associations that repeat within
language (Sokolow, 1988). Therefore, denitions for TFP and sentences, given that it relies upon co-occurrence analysis, which
innovation in TFP derived from the consumers perspective are would be difcult to nd using other methods of content analysis
needed in order to understand consumers attitudes to innovations (Alba, 2004), such as contingency tables and correspondence
in TFP. Normally, these feelings and needs are related to socio- analysis. More simply, it could be described as a combination of
cultural aspects, which in turn may be inuenced by the country or textual and statistical analysis. In ALCESTE the different word
place of origin of consumers. In the food domain, culture may be categories are generated automatically by the software, not by the
one of the most powerful determinants of attitudes and behaviours researcher, thus increasing the objectivity of the process and
(Rozin, 1990). In general, cross-cultural studies show important avoiding human inuence.
differences in food-related aspects even in relatively homogenous The main objective of present research is to obtain a consumer-
countries such as those belonging to the EU (Boer, Helms, & Aiking, driven denition for the concept of traditional food products
2006; Olsen, Scholderer, Brunso, & Verbeke, 2007). These (TFP) and innovations in TFP and to compare these across six
differences are expressed both in terms of food choice and different European countries: Belgium, France, Italy, Norway,
consumption patterns, as well as in beliefs, attitudes or lifestyles. Poland and Spain. In order to make this qualitative approach more
According to Askegaard and Madsen (1998) Europe cannot be objective, textual statistical analysis, using the software ALCESTE,
regarded as a homogeneous food culture, because noticeable was applied, allowing comparison of the results obtained with
differences exist not only at a national level but also at a more those derived from the usual semantic analysis of focus group
regional/local level in terms of food preferences, habits, food- discussions. The research was carried out within the European
related behaviour, and attitudes. The existence of cultural variation Sixth Framework Programme, Integrated Project TRUEFOOD.
in food choices throughout Europe has been demonstrated at
different levels: the composition of protein diets (Boer, Helms, & Methods
Aiking, 2006), importance of food risk communication strategies
(van Dijk et al., 2008), attitudes to food, nutrition and health Focus groups
(Lappalainen, Kearney, & Gibney, 1998) or food behaviour and
attitudes (Askegaard & Madsen, 1998). This variability is even Twelve focus groups (7  2 consumers in each) were carried out,
greater when dealing with traditional food products and tradi- two in each of the six selected countries, namely Belgium, France,
tional cuisine that are based mainly on the natural resources Italy, Norway, Poland and Spain. In each country, one group
available in the area. discussion was held with rural consumers and the other with urban
According to Jordana (2000) southern European countries have consumers (living in places with a number of inhabitants lower or
a more traditional food character due to a greater market share of higher than 10,000, respectively, as dened by the British Countryside
small companies and a better climate, which supports a more Agency (BCA, 2006)). All selected participants were involved in
widespread availability of traditional food products. Therefore, it deciding what food to buy and its preparation at home. In each focus
seems reasonable to observe and compare the denition for both group, both women and men were recruited in order to avoid gender
TFP and innovation across countries that differ in cultural dominance (Ibanez, 1979). All the participants were between 29 and
background. Thus, the meanings of both TFP and TFP-related 55 years old so as to avoid age extremes. Overall, 95 consumers were
L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354 347

Table 1
Characteristics of the participants in the twelve focus groups performed.

Country Number of consumers Place of residence Gender Age range Education levela Number of children range

Belgium 18 9 rural 7 males 3053 11 medium 04

9 urban 11 females 7 superior

France 15 7 rural 6 males 3250 1 elementary 02

8 urban 9 females 8 medium
6 superior

Italy 16 8 rural 7 males 3050 2 elementary 02

8 urban 9 females 10 medium
4 superior

Norway 14 9 rural 5 males 3049 7 medium 03

5 urban 9 females 7 superior

Poland 16 8 rural 6 males 3049 11 medium 07

8 urban 10 females 5 superior

Spain 16 8 rural 6 males 2955 3 elementary 03

8 urban 10 females 8 medium
5 superior

Total 95 49 rural 37 males 2955 6 elementary 07

46 urban 58 females 55 medium
34 superior
Education level: elementary or primary school; medium or secondary school; superior or university.

involved. Table 1 shows their key characteristics by country. All the common agreed denition for TFP and for innovation was
focus groups were carried out between June and September 2006. obtained.
A common and agreed topic guide for the focus group Each transcription obtained from the 12 group discussions
discussions was developed according to Krueger (1988), and performed was split into three different text les: one for the
Chambers and Smith (1991). This guide included the recruitment concept of traditional (parts a and b), one for the concept of
criteria, the moderators guide, and some instructions about how to innovation (part c) and one for the application of innovations in TFP
transcribe, prepare and present the results for analysis. Each focus (part d). In all cases, the questions and comments of the moderators
group was led by a moderator. The moderator directed the ow of were removed. Then, the text les were coded for each participant
the discussion and ensured that all of the important issues were and identied by the country of origin, the gender, the place of
discussed. The moderators guide included a background section residence (rural or urban), and the education level as a sampling unit
containing the purpose of the study, the expected outcomes, and (Initial Context Unit or ICU), and appended producing a single text
technical denitions of TFP and innovation, a methodological le for each concept or idea (traditional and traditional food
section where the recruitment of the participants was detailed, and products, innovation and innovation in TFP). In these les all the
a description of the steps to follow for carrying out the focus contributions made by the same individual (ICU) were put together
groups. Each focus group consisted of the following four main parts as a simple paragraph. The resulting coded le was submitted to a
each of about 2030 min duration: statistical analysis by means of ALCESTE software (ALCESTE, V.4.8,
Image, Toulouse, France) (Reiner, 1986). The analyses were
(a) Generic part about traditional products in general (not limited performed in ve stages as described by Dranseld et al. (2004),
to food). Alba (2004) and Bailey and Schonhardt-Bailey (2006):
(b) Specic part focussed on traditional food products.
(c) Specic part oriented towards innovations in foods. (1) Text segmentation and word coding: segmentation of each ICU
(d) Relationships between tradition and innovation in the food using the punctuation marks contained in the text as groups of
context. sentences or Elementary Context Units (ECUs). The different
words were then classied using an internal dictionary as
Before starting the discussion a short introduction about the adjectives, nouns, adverbs and others.
subject of the meeting was given by the moderator and a self- (2) Lemmatisation: reduction of words to their root forms and
introduction of the participants took place. In line with Krueger their classication as analysable (nouns, verbs, . . .) and
(1988) and Ibanez (1979) consumers were always asked about their supplementary (prepositions, conjunctions, . . .).
personal experiences in order to avoid stereotypes. In addition, the (3) Contingency table of analysable reduced forms by ECUs.
moderators tried to avoid this effect when directing the ow of the (4) Top-down hierarchical cluster analysis to obtain stable classes
discussions. All the focus groups were audio- and, in some cases, and their signicant words (tested by Chi-square).
video-recorded. The sessions lasted between 90 and 120 min. (5) Description of the classes applying correspondence analysis
and hierarchical cluster analysis.
Data analyses
Results and discussion
A transcription, word by word, of the tape recordings of each
focus group was made in the original language rst and then Semantic analysis of the focus groups
translated into English. In addition, each countrys research team
wrote a report following the recommendations made by Krueger Tradition in general
(1988). The nal cross-cultural report was developed by means of Most consumers found it difcult to dene traditional. They
open discussion between the researchers. From this nal report a found the concept ambiguous and confusing. According to Prabhu
348 L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354

(1987), working with concepts is more difcult than working with all or an important part of the additional values and feelings that
the names of objects or actions, suggesting that the degree of may be conferred on consumers in their original place of
abstractness can make activities more difcult. manufacturing and/or distribution. However, some consumers
The product that emerged most spontaneously, hence being the participating in focus groups stated that in certain cases traditions
most suitable for explaining the concept of tradition was food or may be created or taken over from other regions or countries
something related to food (cooking, cuisine, eating. . .). Food has (couscous in France, Santa Claus in Spain, . . .), because information
been described as an important contributor to physical well being, (Internet, TV, newspapers, . . .), fashions or globalisation may spread
a major source of pleasure, worry and stress, a major occupant of some traditions and traditional food products all over the world and
waking time and, across the world, the single greatest category of may convert even a non traditional product into traditional.
expenditure (Rozin, Fishler, Imada, Sarubin, & Wrzesniewski,
1999). For this reason, it is not surprising that food emerged so Processing and elaboration. There was general agreement across
easily when asking participants about the general and abstract countries regarding the importance of the elaboration of food. It
concept of traditional. seems more appropriate to talk about traditional cuisine than to
In general, consumers thought that the usage of traditional talk about traditional food products. Normally, it is the elaboration
products, especially non-food products, is diminishing because of that makes the difference between a traditional and a non-
the modern way of living. As expected, different perceptions for the traditional food product. In this context, the gastronomic heritage
concept of traditional were detected. Tradition was well accepted and artisan character of the elaboration method acquire great
in cultural and gastronomic-related contexts, where it was importance. The word traditional comes from the Latin verb
perceived as something to keep and protect for subsequent tradere which means to hand down, to transfer doctrines,
generations as suggested by Trichopoulou, Vasilopoulou, Georga, customs, etc., from generation to generation. When dealing with
Soukara, and Dilis (2006). In science and technology and even in food, the transfer of this know-how or culinary arts across
politics, it was rejected as it was perceived as a barrier to progress generations constitutes the gastronomic heritage. Some ingredi-
and development. ents and systems of food preparation represent an intrinsic part of
the identity of regional foods and by association with the people
Tradition in foods who consume them (Fajans, 2006). To be traditional, a food
Surprisingly, and despite the obvious cultural differences product not only has to contain traditional ingredients, but also has
between the countries, the results were very similar. The relatively to be processed in a traditional way, according to the traditional
high level of similarity may partly be explained by the use of a recipes. Traditional food products were perceived, in general, as
highly detailed and structured moderators guide that prevented simple products, with low complexity. Traditional food products
the groups focus from moving away from the issues to discuss. tend to be basic, natural, and pure, often in the sense that little or
Generally speaking, four main dimensions were detected for the no processing or manipulation has occurred after the primary
concept of traditional and TFP: production.

Habits and natural. Traditional food products were perceived as Sensory properties. Taste was an important dimension of the
food products that are eaten every day or quite frequently, that are traditional food products: tradition is tasteful. Distinct taste
a part of daily life, and commonly used. It seems that most appeared as one of the strongest characteristics of traditional food
consumers associate TFP with habit. Habit is a strong determinant products. The importance of sensory characteristics as a quality
of food-related behaviour. Consumers repeated habitual behaviour factor in determining consumers acceptance or rejection has been
even if they reported intentions to do otherwise, given that pointed out in a number of studies. Sensory parameters are one of
intentions only guide behaviour in the absence of strong habits (Ji the simplest and easiest ways to recognize and identify the
& Wood, 2007). This repeated behaviour may constitute the basis authenticity of a food product.
for building up the concept of Traditional in consumers minds.
Some traditional food products were also dened as strongly To sum up a traditional food product from the consumers
seasonal, consumed at special occasions such as Christmas and perspective may be dened as a product frequently consumed or
Easter. Traditional was associated with something anchored in the associated with specic celebrations and/or seasons, normally
past to the present, transmitted from one generation to another, transmitted from one generation to another, made accurately in a
that has been consumed and is consumed from the past, has specic way according to the gastronomic heritage, with little or no
existed for a long time, that has always been part of the consumers processing/manipulation, distinguished and known because of its
life. The TFP concept included aspects related to health, to sensory properties and associated with a certain local area, region or
naturalness, to homemade, artisan, made on the farm, without country.
industrial handling, and without additives. All of these concepts
are strongly related. Natural foods are perceived as being both Innovation in foods
nutritious and safe and frequently associated with a positive Contrary to the concept of tradition in food, differences in the
impact on human health and a low degree of processing. The term perception of the word innovation were found between countries.
natural, with its emotive appeal, is often associated with other This may be explained by the existence of noticeable differences
emotive terms such as traditional and home-made (Bender, 1989). between European countries regarding their propensity to accept
According to Trichopoulou et al. (2007) habit and health may be and adopt innovations (Singh, 2006). Generally speaking, con-
regarded as one single dimension, since habit and tradition are sumer attitudes towards innovation diverge from one country to
rarely based on foods, which are not palatable and healthy. another. French and Belgian consumers seemed to be more open to
innovation in foods than Polish consumers, where tradition
Origin and locality. Traditional was linked to food origin as well and (especially in rural areas) plays an important role in the life and
in this sense all the countries agreed that traditions cannot be personal relations of people (Bukraba-Rylska, 2004). Norwegian
exported. This idea conrms the view of Giraud (1998), who consumers tended to be closer to the Polish point of view than to
suggested that a traditional product per se cannot be exported. Local the French and Belgians, being quite critical of the idea of
products outside their area of inuence, outside their locality, region innovation. For Italian consumers innovations emerged as some-
or country, will simply be perceived as regular products, thus losing thing they have to live with and accept because of the modern way
L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354 349

of living. French consumers also admitted that innovations are shopping, meal preparation and cooking, consumption and even
unavoidable due to the modern way of life. Spanish consumers had in post-meal activities. In a study performed in the UK, Buckley,
a propensity to be more neutral, keeping in mind both the Cowan, and McCarthy (2007) identied and dened two
advantages and disadvantages that food innovations might convenience-oriented segments of consumers, the kitchen
introduce. evaders (16%) and the convenience-seeking grazers (33%).
According to the results obtained from the twelve focus groups These segments of consumers could be of great interest as a target
the concept of innovation in foods seems to come under ve main for producers and manufacturers of innovative TFP. Marketing
headings: related parameters such as retailing formats and branding, as a
source of food innovations, were also perceived as a noticeable
Novelty and change. For all six countries innovation was related to increase in convenience. In fact, all the stages involved in the food
something new and/or to modications in the ingredients, in the provisioning process inuence consumers perceived conveni-
preparation of food, and in its size or packaging. Food is innovative ence (Jaeger & Meiselman, 2004).
if it is prepared in a different way, when adding unknown or new
ingredients or when adding foreign and unusual ingredients. This To sum up, the word innovation associated with food could be
idea of novelty related to the concept of innovation in food is dened as the addition of new or unusual ingredient; new
similar to that found in the scientic literature (Carayannis et al., combinations of product; different processing systems or elaboration
2003; Fagerberg, 2004 or Moskowitz et al., 2006). Some procedures including packaging; coming from different origin or
participants stated that originally everything was an innovation, cultures; being presented and/or supplied in new ways; and always
even the most ancestral traditions, since innovations have a having temporary validity.
temporary validity: nothing is new for ever. Once innovations
become widely adopted they lose their innovative character and in Applying innovations in traditional food products
some cases, start the long road to becoming a tradition. From this A crucial aspect concerning consumers attitudes to innovation
consumers perspective it seems unlikely that we can combine in traditional food products was the type of innovation applied. In
tradition and innovation in the same food product. general, innovations that increase safety or provide the product
with important tangible benets were welcomed when these
Variety. Innovation implies an important and evident benet for innovations did not harm the fundamental characteristics of the
consumers because it increases the variety of available options: product. According to Henson (1995), consumers acceptance or
variations in taste, in combinations of food ingredients, in product rejection of new technologies is the result of a complex decision-
shapes, and sizes. Generally speaking, this is perceived as a positive making process that involves an assessment of the perceived risks/
outcome and a potential benet derived from food innovations, benets associated with the new technology and with the existing
given that most consumers appreciate diversity and the possibility alternatives. However, complex or extensive decision-making is
of choice (Filser, 1994). Variety-seeking is a normal part of choice only one potential way of dealing with food choice decisions. In
behaviour inuenced by extrinsic motives such as consumers very complex situations, in situations of high uncertainty or low
need to have different choices for different purposes, occasions, issue involvement, consumers motivation to process information
and people (McAlister & Pessemier, 1982). Personality traits such might be rather low (Chen & Chaiken, 1999; Tversky & Kahneman,
as boredom, satiation and curiosity (Lahteenmaki & Arvola, 2001), 1974). In these cases, heuristics or easy decision rules, such as
also contribute to the satisfaction of individual variety-seeking labeling information (e.g. information about the traditional
behaviour. character of a food product in this specic case), may act as a
convenient guide for consumers to make fast decisions in line with
Processing and technology. Innovation in food was related to their preferences (Verbeke, 2005). Normally, if the changes
technological aspects and industrial food processing. An innova- introduced are small, the innovation is more likely to be accepted.
tive food may be created by applying new technologies or further However, acceptance of the technology is not sufcient, but more
processing it. In general, consumers pointed out a certain apparent likely a necessary condition for acceptance of the product.
incompatibility between tradition and innovation, and in some Generally, highly complex technological processes make consu-
cases these two concepts were perceived as contradictory. mers more critical of the products. It is important to mention that
uncertainty may play an important role in consumers propensity
Origin and ethnicity. Innovation was related to ethnic food and to to adopt and accept food innovations. Thus, it is commonly
imported products as well. The foreign (non-national or non- recognized that cultures with weaker uncertainty avoidance are
regional) image of the product tends to play an important role in more likely to participate in innovative behaviour (Singh, 2006).
determining its innovative character. In any case, it is important to The results obtained from the cross-cultural comparisons show
note that the degree of innovativeness perceived in imported that for each food, each innovation and their combination, different
products and their acceptance may differ depending on the acceptance levels are observed depending on the country or
product properties and on intrinsic consumer factors such as culture, on top of individual consumers personal interests. For
interest in foreign cultures (Juric & Worsley, 1998) and cultural instance, French and Polish consumers are not keen on nutritional
openness or consumer ethnocentrism (Chambers, Lobb, Butler, innovations, while these kinds of food modications, generally
Harvey, & Traill, 2007; Shankarmahesh, 2006; Verbeke & Lopez, speaking, are apparently well accepted in Spain (Guardia,
2005). Guerrero, Gelabert, Gou, & Arnau, 2006). Importantly, consumers
should be properly informed about the innovation applied. Honest,
Convenience. Corresponding with changing lifestyles, conveni- informative, and reassuring communication is essential when
ence was also an important parameter related to innovations. introducing innovations in traditional food products. It should be
Almost all participants pointed out the practical advantages that noted though that strategies for reducing information asymmetry
convenience-oriented innovations could provide in making a through the simple provision of more information to consumers
consumers life easier. The following examples were given: pre- have a limited chance of success if this information fails to address
cooked or ready-to-eat foods, frozen foods, microwavable a particular need of an interested market segment. The implica-
products, or new packages. Food convenience enables the tions for information provision are that the recipient population
consumer to save time and effort in different food activities, needs to be well understood (Verbeke, 2005).
350 L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354

Table 2
Summary of the overall results obtained from the three different analyses performed with ALCESTE software (double classication).

Concept Total number ICUsa Number HCAc Analysable Number Words/ECU Cases of the Occurrences in ECUs Number of
of words of ECUsb items of ECUs contingency table contingency table classied clusters

Traditional 46719 95 1107 1 634 817 14 517980 13705 (2.6%) 866 (78.2%) 7
2 633 738 16 467150 13508 (2.9%)

Innovation 19773 94 527 1 336 428 11 143808 5642 (3.9%) 346 (65.7%) 4
2 332 380 13 126160 5549 (4.4%)

Innovation in 14886 92 402 1 245 323 11 79135 3992 (5.0%) 249 (61.9%) 5
traditional food 2 245 290 13 71050 3922 (5.5%)
ICU, Initial Context Unit.
ECU, Elementary Context Unit.
HCA, Top-down Hierarchical Cluster Analysis.

Statistical analysis of the transcriptions (ALCESTE software) Traditional and traditional food products (TFP)
The analysis performed with ALCESTE provided seven different
Table 2 shows the summary of the descriptive results obtained clusters for the concept of traditional and TFP. The total number of
for each concept (transcription) after applying the ALCESTE signicant words (x2  2.89) in each cluster ranged from 110 in
software. The total number of words for each transcription ranged cluster 5 to 175 in cluster 4. The different nationalities were
between 46,719 words for traditional to 14,886 words for individually located in the different clusters obtained (Fig. 1) with
innovation in TFP, thus indicating that consumers spent longer the exception of Belgians and Polish, both classied in cluster 4.
discussing the former than the latter. There are two possible This indicates an apparent discrepancy in the development of the
explanations for these ndings, the complexity of the topic under discussion in each country, contrary to what was interpreted and
discussion or the progressive fatigue of the participants. In each described for the semantic discussion of the focus groups results.
transcription the two different top-down hierarchical cluster However, although different groups or clusters were obtained, the
analyses performed with a different number of words per ECU led main ideas within each of these groups were probably similar, but
to the same number of clusters or stable classes. In all cases, an expressed using different words. For example, food origin was
acceptable percentage of classied ECUs was obtained, ranging important for all the countries involved. However, this importance
from 61.9% to 78.2%. These gures represent the percentages of was expressed with different words in each country: Belgian in
ECUs that were similarly classied in the two analyses performed Belgium, French and Burgundy in France or Catalonia in
by transcription. Spain. ALCESTE software is sensitive to the different words used.

Fig. 1. Correspondence analysis for the concept of traditional. Values 17 indicate the cluster centroid.
L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354 351

For this reason, the same idea expressed with different food Innovation in foods
products, nationalities or other words may provide different Four different clusters were obtained for the concept of
clusters. innovation. The total number of signicant words (x2  2) per
Fig. 1 shows the overall map obtained with ALCESTE for the cluster ranged from 83 in cluster 1 to 132 in cluster 3.
concept of traditional. In this map both the signicant classica- The same ve dimensions were obtained in the analysis with
tion variables and the most signicant words obtained were ALCESTE with some differences between countries similar to the
included. The focus will be on the denition of TFP and its results in the semantic analysis.
similarity to the semantic analysis reported previously. Four main Fig. 2 shows the overall map for the concept innovation. Words
dimensions were detected in the semantic analysis related to the such as new, create, added modied or mix among
concept of TPF: habit and natural, origin and locality, processing others, conrm the importance of the idea of something new or
and elaboration and sensory properties. The same four dimensions modied. Innovation is mainly perceived as novelty, but also as
can also be found in the analysis performed with ALCESTE (Fig. 1). modications or mixtures of already existing food products or
Words such as usual (closer to Spanish and Italian con- ingredients. In general, these words appear for all nationalities,
sumers), habit (close to French consumers) and daily (close to thus indicating that this dimension was similarly perceived in all
Belgians, Norwegians and Poles) illustrate the association between cases. The word new was signicant (x2  2) for the four
TFP and what people normally eat. In fact food products such as different clusters obtained.
bean and rice close to Spanish, pasta close to Italians or Diversity and possibility of choice were expressed by the words
bread close to Poles, Norwegians and Belgians conrm this idea. choose, variety, range or offer. All of these words were
Similar to the semantic analysis some words point to the close to Belgians compared to the other nationalities. The word
importance of the transmission of traditions from one generation variety was also signicant in cluster 3 (x2 = 9) where Italians
to another: grandmother, typical, parents or generation. and Polish were located. This aspect seems to be less important for
Health was close to Belgians, Norwegians and Polish, but other Spanish consumers, probably because they perceive their diet as
words such as home-made, natural or fresh, which were diverse enough. Although dietary habits are evolving towards a
located in different places, could also contribute to this habit/ progressive abandoning of the diverse traditional Mediterranean
natural dimension of the TFP previously dened. The only diet in Spain (Lairon, Vincent, & Defoort, 2006), it seems that
nationality that seems to be apart from the health dimension is Spanish consumers involved in this study did not perceive an
France. However, French consumers have a signicant contribu- increase in variety as an important outcome of food innovations.
tion to cluster 2 (x2  298), which also contains the word fresh Processing and technology elicited words such as packaging,
(x2 = 17). It is important to mention here that correspondence process or production, highlight the importance of this third
analysis (Fig. 1) mainly accounts for those characteristics that dimension in the concept of innovation. These words and similar
describe each column or row (proles) better, even when their words (not included in the graph) such as technology or tin
frequency is relatively low (Greenacre, 1984). were located all over the different clusters and countries indicating
With respect to food origin, words such as French, Italian, an overall agreement about the impact of technology in food
local or foreign, clearly point out the importance of this aspect innovations.
in TFP. All these words were among those that exhibit the highest The origin and ethnicity of a food as a source of innovation was
x2 values within the different clusters, thus having an important especially highlighted by Spanish consumers, shown by the
effect on the differentiation between countries. proximity of the word place to Spanish (Fig. 2). For the remaining
The recipe, the ingredients, the cooking procedure and nationalities some words were related to origin, but in most cases,
the way of preparation of the different food products also seems except for Italians, they were not signicant or only had low x2-
to be an important dimension in the concept of a traditional food values. The Spanish may be more susceptible to this aspect because
product. Again, this nding corresponds with that from the of the relatively recent and rapid growth of immigration and ethnic
semantic analysis. Clearly, not only are the ingredients themselves restaurants.
crucial for obtaining a TFP, but also the preparation and the Convenience is clearly represented in Fig. 2 and corroborates
processing. the results obtained in the semantic interpretation of the focus
Words connected to sensory dimension in food were frequently groups. Words such as quick, easy, fast or ready indicate
mentioned by consumers in the focus groups. They appear in Fig. 1 the importance of the convenience dimension. Remarkably, most
as taste and quality (referred to taste). Other signicant words of these words are located in cluster 4, close to Belgians. In any
that were not included in the graph are delicious (x2 = 6) and case, in all the clusters obtained and for all the countries, it is
sour (x2 = 4). All these words emerged spontaneously during the possible to nd statistically signicant words that point out the
discussion and although they may have a different meaning for the effect of convenience in the concept of innovation (lifestyle,
different consumers (Koster, 2003), they reveal the importance of time, and work).
sensory properties in traditional food products. Sensory char- The importance of new cuisine as a source of innovation also
acteristics represent the fourth dimension of the concept of TFP emerges in Fig. 2. This aspect was especially important for French
and again conrm the ndings of the semantic approach. and Spanish consumers and was expressed by words such as
Some differences were observed with respect to gender and restaurant, cook, delicious or recipe. France has a long
place of residence. Female and urban consumers were more tradition of well-known and innovative chefs. In Spain, although
concerned about the preparation and recipes of TFP, while men and more recently, innovative cuisine is also present in the consumers
rural consumers focussed more on their family units and believed mind because of some famous local chefs and restaurants such as
that some changes have occurred regarding TFP. Gender differ- El Bulli.
ences may be explained by the different activities and roles that It is also interesting to point out that food innovation was
men and women still have with respect to food choice and related to nutritional improvements (salt reduction or addition
preparation (Sayer, 2007). Urban consumers were inuenced by all of omega-3). These words were mainly located close to Spanish
the aspects that dene TFP, probably because of their willingness consumers, although health was also close to Belgians. Sensory
to reconnect with their rural roots (Montanari, 1994). Rural properties (taste, sensory quality, colour, fresh) also
consumers seem to be more concerned about the changes that they appeared during the discussion as important factors to keep in
believe are taking place and the possible consequences. mind when innovating food products.
352 L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354

Fig. 2. Correspondence analysis for the concept of innovation. Values 14 indicate the cluster centroid.

In general, when compared with the semantic analysis of the be the most reluctant to accept innovation in food. In fact the word
focus groups, similar results were obtained with the ALCESTE negative clearly differentiated Poles from all but Italians.
software. As it was assessed semantically, Belgian consumers seem Norwegians were closer to the point of view of Poles than Belgians
to be more open to accept food innovations, while Polish seems to or French, and Spanish had an intermediate position. Italians,

Fig. 3. Correspondence analysis for the concept of innovation applied to traditional food products. Values 15 indicate the cluster centroid.
L. Guerrero et al. / Appetite 52 (2009) 345354 353

although close to Poles, were also close to the word positive, thus through quantitative research, involving larger and more repre-
indicating a lack of consensus among Italian consumers. sentative consumer samples, is recommended. Such studies should
take into account the diversity among consumers, both with
Innovations in traditional food products respect to their cultural and regional background, as well as in
Fig. 3 shows results from correspondence analysis for the terms of personal characteristics such as food-related perceptions,
concept of innovation applied to TFP. Five different clusters were attitudes and lifestyles, and individual difference variables, such as
obtained with a number of signicant words (x2  2) ranging from ethnocentrism and openness to innovation.
51 in cluster 4 to 98 in cluster 1.
In general most of the innovations that emerged in the
discussion, and that had a signicant weight, were those related
to packaging (vacuum package, bag, carton, and shape).
This study was supported by the TRUEFOOD Traditional
These innovations in TFP are innovations that do not modify the
United Europe Food an Integrated Project nanced by the
fundamental intrinsic characteristics of the product. Nutrition-
European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme
related innovations were also mentioned (light, fat, omega-
(Contract no. FOOD-CT-2006-016264).
3, and vitamin). This suggests that health improvement
The information in this document reects only the authors
innovations may be accepted, but probably only when providing
views and the European Commission is not liable for any use that
pronounced tangible benets for consumers. Convenience
may be made of the information contained therein.
oriented innovations also emerged in the discussion and were
expressed as fast, precooked, ready or preparation. It
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