The quest for high quality, convenient food offerings remains a daily challenge for today’s time-scarce yet health-conscious consumers, and many perceive there to be a trade-off between these two factors.

This is evident in that as perceptions of convenience increase across food preparation categories, perceptions of quality decline. Indeed, within the canned and frozen food categories – deemed as most convenient – quality perceptions were the lowest of all categories.

Processed food manufacturers face an uphill challenge in this respect to counter the overriding perception that fresh is the best quality, healthiest, and also superior in taste. Providing greater transparency in ingredient provenance and production methods could help enhance understanding of canning and freezing methods for example and the limited impact it has on the integrity of the end product in terms of quality and taste.

Similarly leveraging claims which the fresh category is often characterised by such as natural, organic, ‘free-from’ could also help alleviate the stigma attached to processed foods such as canned and frozen.

While these categories may not be able to compete with robust quality perceptions of fresh foods, enhancing perceptions of freshness within their respective categories could serve to give them the edge over their competitors in narrowing the gap between convenience and quality.

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