Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Consumers’ associations with wellbeing in a food-related context: A cross-cultural study

Volume 40, Part B, March 2015, Pages 304–315
Tenth Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium

  • a Departamento de Ciencia y Tecnología de Alimentos, Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Uruguay
  • b IRTA-Food Technology, XaRTA, Finca Camps i Armet, E-17121 Monells, Spain
  • c REQUIMTE/DGAOT, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Rua do Campo Alegre 687, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal
  • d REQUIMTE/DCeT, Universidade Aberta, Rua do Ameal 752, 4200-055 Porto, Portugal
  • e Instituto de Química, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Av. Athos da Silveira Ramos 149, Cidade Universitária 21949-909, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
  • f SFR QUASAV 4207, Groupe ESA, UPSP GRAPPE, 55 rue Rabelais, Angers, France
  • g Embrapa Food Technology, Av. das Américas, 29501, CEP 23.020-470, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil


Consumers’ associations with food-related wellbeing were explored in five countries.
Wellbeing in a food-related context was perceived as a multidimensional construct.
It was related to a positive condition of physical health, body functioning and emotional state.
The characteristics of food products which affect perceived wellbeing were identified.
Significant differences among countries were found.


Consumers’ perception of wellbeing in a food context can affect food choices and might provide a more holistic evaluation of products than overall liking or healthfulness scores. However, considering that wellbeing is a broad concept which lacks of a unique definition, it is necessary to explore how consumers perceive wellbeing in a food-related context. The present work aims at exploring consumers’ associations with wellbeing in a food-related context, taking into account the views of consumers from five countries: Brazil, France, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay. A total of 755 consumers were asked to complete a questionnaire comprising five open-ended questions about foods and wellbeing. The elicited terms were translated into English, coded and grouped into categories. The frequency of mention of the categories was determined and differences among countries were evaluated. In the five countries wellbeing was mainly associated with calmness, health, happiness, food products, positive emotions and satisfaction with specific aspects of life. The effects of foods on wellbeing were strongly related to physical health, pleasure and emotional aspects. Meanwhile, consumers regarded sensory characteristics, manufacturing processes, nutritional composition and context of food consumption as the main factors underlying food-related wellbeing. Vegetables, fruits, fish and seafood, meat products, grains and cereals, and dairy products were the main foods recognized as positive for wellbeing, whereas foods high in fat, salt and sugar, meat products, junk food and fried food were perceived as harmful. Significant differences among countries were identified in the frequency of mention of the categories elicited in the five questions, suggesting that culture affected consumers’ associations with wellbeing.


  • Wellness;
  • Consumer studies;
  • Free listing;
  • Word association;
  • Qualitative studies
Corresponding author. Tel.: +598 29248003; fax: +598 292419906.