Nutritech - Rethinking the Food Chain

New article: European consumers’ perceptions of time-temperature indicators in food packaging

6.10.2014 8:22


Food quality is an essential aspect of food industry. Time-temperature indicator (TTI) technology has the capability to provide information on temperature fluctuations that temperature sensitive food products have undergone. However, the adoption of the TTI technology in the consumer market has yet to materialise despite the many benefits that TTIs might bring to food manufacturers, retailers and consumers.

In the study by Pennanen et al. (2014) consumers' knowledge, interest and perceptions of TTIs were studied. Altogether sixteen focus groups discussions and quantitative surveys were conducted in Finland, Greece, France and Germany to capture consumers' perceptions on TTI technology concept and two commercial TTI applications. The study results show that consumers in all countries appreciate and understand TTI technology, especially so in warmer countries. In Finland, the TTI concept was understood and appreciated by consumers and several benefits were associated with it including feeling of security, serving as additional food selection criteria and tool to force food value chain to pay attention to cold chain. The negative aspects were related to confusion between expiration date and TTI message, potentially increasing food waste and increasing price of food products due to technology.

However, Finnish consumers' perceptions towards the studied TTI applications showed that further technology development is required to meet consumers' expectations. The main concern was the sticker-like nature of the studied applications. This feature undermined the benefits of TTIs as consumers were of the opinion that retailers would anyway replace the deteriorated TTI to a new one. Moreover, consumers' evaluations indicated that TTIs should be easy to understand including clear visual message such as traffic-light colours but also written instructions to interpret the message.

For more information:

Pennanen, Kyösti, Focas, Caralampo, Kumpusalo-Sanna, Vilja, Vuokko Kaisu, Matullat, Imke, Ellouze, Mariem, Pentikäinen, Saara, Smolander, Maria, Korhonen, Virpi & Ollila, Margareetta (2014). European consumers' perceptions of time temperature indicators in food packaging. Packaging Technology and Science.doi:10.1002/pts.2105.

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