The Impact of Labels and Preconceptions on Ohio State Students' Food Buying Habits
Keywords:College-aged students opinions regarding food labels
College-aged students perceptions about agriculture
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership Undergraduate Research Theses; 2020
The purpose of this study was to discover why students at The Ohio State University, aged 18-23, choose to buy certain food products. It aimed to determine if preconceptions about agriculture or food labels influence student consumer habits. Learning about students' opinions can allow agricultural companies to better market and create products for this demographic. According to Lundy et. al. (2018), who examined college millennials' beef labeling views, millennials worried about beef production's environmental impact. In terms of thoughts on labeling, participants wanted more "transparency." Although this study was focused more broadly, it served to gauge college-aged consumer's views on food products. In this study, the researchers used an online Qualtrics survey (28 questions) to assess participants' underlying perceptions and opinions of agriculture. The questions were Likert scale, open response, and multiple-choice formats. To recruit study participants, the survey was presented by the undergraduate researcher to four classes in the autumn and two in the spring at Ohio State. Flyers were posted in 18th Avenue Library and the Ohio Union. The researchers used SPSS software to conduct statistical tests, such as Descriptive Frequencies, One-way ANOVA tests, and one Nonparametric test. Four qualitative responses were analyzed by categorizing answers into themes. There were 74 responses. More than half (52.7%) of participants indicated they would be willing to pay 5% more for organic foods. The data also showed that 26% of participants followed one or a combination of eating regimens. Data also indicated that 82.4% agreed to some degree that "Farmers are trustworthy," while 52.8% disagreed to some degree that "Pesticides are safe." In terms of qualitative data, there were various responses. When defining the term "organic" in an open-ended response, answers ranged from "no pesticides" to "non-GMO." The results suggest students are hesitant about some agricultural practices, as well as choosing some food products. Qualitative responses also suggest lack of understanding of some agricultural practices and food labels. With this information, agricultural communicators should continue focusing on using the farmer to address consumer concerns—since consumers indicated they trust farmers.
Academic Major: Agricultural Communication
The Ohio Soybean Council
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