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Product attributes and consumer attitudes affecting preferences for infant milk formula in China - a latent class approach

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen Kendall, Dr Sharron Kuznesof, Dr Beth ClarkORCiD, Paul Brereton, Professor Lynn FrewerORCiD, Dr Mei-Yen Chan



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


A series of food safety incidents has led to low levels of trust in the safety of domestically produced Chinese infant milk formula. Concerned parents in China increasingly source 'foreign-produced' brands and use a range of authenticity cues as assurance of the safety and authenticity of infant formula products. However, the effectiveness of authenticity cues in providing assurance to Chinese consumers has not been evaluated. The aim of this study is to analyse the importance ofvarious authenticity cues for infant milk product choices. Latent class models were used to analyse responses to an online choice experiment with350 consumers of European infant formula in three Chinese cities:Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. The model included respondents' preferences for different labels, authenticity cues and price along with perceptions, attitudes, and socio-demographic characteristics. We identified two consumer segments, with one preferring lower priced infantformula and the second choosing higher priced products. All authenticity cues, including price, appear to serve as indicators of food quality and safety, and all were found to be highly important information sources forthe respondents when making purchase decisions. In general, Chineseconsumers are prepared to pay a premium for authenticity assurance. Chinese policy makers and the infant formula industry should continue toimprove quality control systems to increase consumers' trust in foodvalue chains. These control systems should comprise the whole food supplychain, from production to marketing, and should focus on building trustand communicating credibility.

Publication metadata

Author(s): El Benni N, Stolz H, Home R, Kendall H, Kuznesof S, Clark B, Dean M, Brereton P, Frewer LJ, Chan MY, Zhong Q, Stolze M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Food Quality and Preference

Year: 2018

Volume: 71

Pages: 25-33

Print publication date: 01/01/2019

Online publication date: 17/05/2018

Acceptance date: 16/05/2018

Date deposited: 16/05/2018

ISSN (print): 0950-3293

ISSN (electronic): 1873-6343

Publisher: Pergamon Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2018.05.006


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Funder referenceFunder name
613688European Commission
613688Commission of the European Communities