1 Department of Marketing and Statistics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 MAPP - Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University3 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University4 Aarhus BSS Administrative Centre - Aarhus BSS Communication, Aarhus BSS Administrative Centre, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University5 Department of Management, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University6 Aarhus BSS Administrative Centre - Aarhus BSS Communication, Aarhus BSS Administrative Centre, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Many studies have shown that consumers are very sceptical towards genetically modified foods. They call them 'Frankenstein foods' and are not convinced when experts and the food industry claim that there is no difference between genetically modified foods and food products they normally buy. However, a new study carried out by MAPP in collaboration with researchers in Norway, Sweden and Finland indicates that consumers' scepticism is reduced when they taste genetically modified foods and experience that the products are more tasty and more healthy than similar conventional products. In connection with the study we asked 745 respondents from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland to taste eight different cheeses. Three weeks later we sought out the same respondents asking them to taste another two cheeses. The respondents were indifferent to cheese 1 at the first tasting, whereas they thought cheese 2 was the best of them all. The respondents, of course, didn't know that the two cheeses were among the ones they had tasted the first time. Before the second tasting, 2/3 of the respondents were told that the cheese they liked the best was genetically modified. Half of the respondents who believed they tasted genetically modified cheeses, i.e. about 1/3 of all respondents, were also told that the cheese was low in fat as a result of genetic engineering. Having tasted the cheeses, the respondents were given descriptions of genetically modified cheese. The descriptions varied with regard to fat content, fatty acids content, price and added calcium and zinc. Moreover, the product descriptions differed in relation to whether genetically modified rennet had been used or not. In all four countries consumers attached most importance to the type of rennet. Also price was considered important whereas fat content and additives meant less. The most interesting result of the study was that consumers believing they had tasted genetically modified cheese were significantly less negative towards the use of genetically modified rennet than consumers who weren't given any information. Consumers who were led to believe the genetically modified rennet resulted in lower fat content were the ones least negative. All in all there are many indications that consumer would be less negative towards genetic engineering if they had a chance to experience that genetically modified foods taste a lot better than the products they usually prefer.