Quality Perception of Ready to Cook Meals
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The purpose of this research is to examine the effects of quality perception of housewife towards their preference of use of ready to cook meal and to know that which variables of quality perception have an impact on the preference to use. The variables we have taken for the study are taste, freshness, storage life, hygiene, quality of ingredients. Primary data has been collected through personal survey; we have used the questionnaire as an instrument for the data collection. The convenience sampling method was followed. The questionnaires were filled by 150 respondents i.e. housewife. Optimal scaling or categorical regression was used which is statistical technique used to analyze the impact or effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable. The results show that there is no effect of the independent variable (taste, freshness, storage life and quality of ingredients) on the preference to use of the ready to cook meal. In other words we can say that the housewives are not influenced by these variables of quality perception i.e. they have no effect on the preference to use.
Every region has different culture and different perceptions related to meal, (Rozin, 1999). Industry response to consumers' varying lifestyles and preferences has seen an excess of prepared foods (ready-to-cook items) introduced into the market over the past two decades. During this time period, the food industry has prepared a concerted effort to meet up the desires of a time-hungry consumer through enlarged offerings of semi prepared and ready to cook meals. As the emergence of time, men and women both are preferred to work, (Goyal & Singh, 2007) because the daily requirements are grown very high and everyone wants to live a lavish life. For women it's mandatory to look after their home and family along with their job. It is also factual that many of us do not have the time or energy to cook like that everyday. Mainly responsibility for the preparation of meal lies with women. It's true that housewife is always responsible for meal, even she spend more hours away from home than her husband. For working women it seems daunting to give time to cooking after a long working hours. It is quite tiring to plan and prepare a meal for working women, where every day chores as well as office work have no avoidance. She has a more purchasing power however less time to cook and eat. There are options available for the food that fills the empty tummies which are also healthy and take less time. And even some of them have pretty good taste too.As the work habits of women have increased; it has an effect on life style. I have found a way out to this menu planning and making phobia. The easiest way out that I could think of was ready-to-cook meals.
Ready to cook meals is a packaged meal that already cooked or just need to reheats it before use. Many research shows that the concept of ready to cook meal comes from during wars, military has limited resources to prepare food and it is available in pouches and tin cans. It is popularly used in US and Europe countries for ages and has a mature market in food industry. Although it has also captured a market share in Asian countries for past two decades. Ready to cook meals makes life easier that they are easy to make, ready to eat whenever you want to and you just have to do reheat it and it is all done, it is easy to store. These meals can be stored for long time like kept frozen for over three months and once it has cooked then can be stored up to three days in the refrigerator. So, it is a nice deal unlike the consumable commodities. The adoption of ready to cook meal is easier specifically for working women against home cooked meal because she usually don't get the time to make varieties of meal on everyday basis. That's why working women are more likely to buy convenience products than the housewives. Daily dine out is not a healthy choice. Because restaurants offers a heavy and fattening meals which are injurious to our health. So, the people who are health conscious and want a high quality meal or try a new eating experience, they prefer to have natural food ingredients then ready to cook meal is a good choice for them, which is hygienic and tasty like restaurant food. While on the other hand, the advantage of making own home cooked meal is that you can prepare meal according to your preferences, some people like less spicy food. So, you can add or eliminate the ingredients as per your desire. You have a complete control over making of your meal and no preservatives used in it.
1.2 Problem statement
The research we conducted is about to study the effects of housewife quality perception of ready to cook meal on their preference to use.
This research is actually an experimental research in which we found that do the housewives prefer to use the ready to cook meal. And how do they find the ready to cook meal in aspects of its taste, freshness, storage life, hygiene, quality of ingredients in comparison of home cooked meal. There are many companies which offers ready to cook meal in the market.
The task of cooking a big meal after a full day of work might appear kind of off-putting. Due to scarcity of time, the difference is arising in purchasing of substitution of purchased goods. Both the employed and non employed wives are going to apply Time-Buying strategies. But the employed wives take more care of their time so they go for convenience meals or purchase meals. Ready-to-cook meals are dependable with modern consumer fashions towards greater involvement in cooking and the desire to use natural, unprocessed ingredients. This type of food can be served in a short amount of time. This type of food prepared available in market that gives benefit to both employed and non employed women.
The perception of ready to cook meal depends upon some factors which are highly effective on buying of purchased food. When the women consider using ready to cook meal there are some variables like taste, freshness, storage life, hygiene, quality of ingredients, which comes in her mind and make comparison with the home cooked meal. In this report we came to the knowledge that both working n nonworking women were willing to cook food tasty as well as quick. Although we got know that we added flavor in food through long, slow and simmering cooking but now women are finding other ways of infusing flavor that we saw in this study. Mostly women collect recipes' that take short time, some keep their pantry and freezer stocked with ingredients used in most quick tasty meal recipes. Some tasty and healthy shortcuts can make cooking trouble-free and delicious. The other significant variable to consider is storage of ready to cook meal. This discipline describes how to handle, prepare and safe meal in ways that prevent food borne illness, WHO (2007). This practice is to be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. Housewives are very conscious about food safety. They don't take risk for health of their families. They try to Store their food properly and under the best possible position that would extend its life to its extreme potential. Some foods can be stored at room temperature and some must be refrigerated. Freezing can be exploited to increase the life of many items for consumptions. To get the most out of the storage areas, definite conditions must be maintained. These meals are designed to be heated, but can be eaten cold since they are already fully cooked. With the passage of time storage methods are changing with eating patterns. No women look like to be ready to spend hours in cooking foods. Even though, it means we just can not have right to use to real time fresh food. But so is the need of time that we have started showing willingness to buy meals ready to eat where no issues of storage arise. The quality of ingredient is another very important characteristic of meal that is considerable among consumers. This contains such features as texture, and flavor and so on. As well as ingredient quality, there are also hygiene requirements. It is important to make sure that the food processing surroundings is as clean as achievable in order to produce the safest possible food for the consumer.
H1: The taste perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.
H2: The freshness perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.
H3: The storage life perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.
H4: The hygiene perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.
H5: The quality of ingredients perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.
Quality and safety are two important elements in consumer food perceptions and decision making associated with food choice (Grunert, 2005). But the both quality and safety are two different and broad categories. If we take quality as benchmark it may include study hygiene, taste, freshness, health effects and storage life. These five variables also lead to safety of food and if these five variables will be taken under consideration in making home food or purchasing ready to cook meal can be the most important variables to be in consideration. At first it is to be understand that either women now days are cooking food at their home or not or purchasing it from outside.
There is a growing demand for the convenience of take-out food, and food service establishments are seeking to satisfy this demand (Food Institute Report, 2007). The ratio of purchasing the food from outside is growing day by day but the preference to use food will remain the same because the compromise on hygiene, taste, freshness, health and storage has to be always in consideration.
With the emergence of the supermarket and hypermarket culture, consumer preference for packaged food products has increased significantly in the recent years (Stewart-Knox & Mitchell,2003). This factor should not be neglected that with opening of more and more supermarkets, the demand and use of frozen food, ready to cook meal and have increased and consumers are also very well aware of quality and preference to use food (Silayoi & Speece, 2004). Consumers have now become more discriminating in their food product choices and have started emphasizing more on convenience, freshness and quality of the products (Quagrainie, 1998). Freshness, hygiene, taste, all these factors are very important before purchasing package food product because health is an important factor and consumers cant compromise in any kind of health issues(Acebr'on, Levy., Mangin,& Calvo Dopico, (2000) .
The desire for convenience and an increase in the number of working women are some of the significant factors driving a strong growth of packaged food products (Goyal & Singh, 2007). Besides, consumers have now started preferring quality food intake and are becoming more aware in terms of nutritional diet, health and food safety issues (Ruth & Yeung, 2001). The producers of the packaged food should take this factor in reflection because as trends changes the producers have to adopt it quickly because of to capture the market and to remain the markets leaders (Rimal, Fletcher, McWatters, K.H., Misra, S.K. & Deodhar,2001).
As economies develop and incomes increase, people not only demand higher levels of safety and quality in their food (Smith & Riethmuller, 1999), but also express concerns about the environmental sustainability, the logical use of natural resources and the protection of farmers' and animals' health (Overby, Gardial, & Woodruff, 2004). These changes in attitudes and values (Tansey, 1994) have also been stimulated by a number of food scares and crises (e.g. pesticide residues, saturated fats, veterinary drugs, food additives, dioxins, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, etc.) that have become a major public health problem worldwide and shaked consumers' confidence in food quality and food safety. Furthermore, the increasing technological change especially the genetic engineering and its use in agriculture and food industry is generating much controversy over its costs and benefits with the majority of European consumers having a negative attitude towards genetically modified food (Verdurme & Viaene, 2003). Where consumers are going towards package foods, at other side increase in health issue is an another problem. So still there is a huge majority who is still love to cook food their home and prefer it more than ready to cook meal because for them taste, freshness, hygiene is more than the package foods (Hobbs, Bailey, Dickinson & Haghiri, 2005).
Consumers are believed to generally prefer products of high quality. However, the underlying cognitive determinants of "quality" and "safety" are not sufficiently understood within the area of consumer behavior. (Rijswijk & Frewer, 2008). Quality is always the benchmark for the people and in food no one like to compromise on it. The variable which is in discussion of hygiene, storage, freshness, taste and effect on health is the benchmark for the preference to use the food. People can spend premium price but will not compromise on the given variables because health is an important factor for everyone(Rohr, Luddecke, Drusch, Muller & Alvensleben, 2005). It is important to understand consumers' own perceptions and representations of quality and safety. This is because consumers will base their purchasing decisions on these beliefs (Rijswijk & Frewer, 2008).It is not necessary that the variables which is being considered is the benchmark for everyone, For some only 3 will be considered, for other 7 attributes can be in their view. Consumers are likely to derive quality or safety perceptions from other product cues, either intrinsic (e.g., appearance of the product) or extrinsic cues (e.g., a quality label) (Nelson, 1970). It's an another view of judging quality by looking to other product looks because no one knows what is inside, how it is cook, etc. In addition, the interrelationship between consumer conceptualization of food quality and food safety warrants further investigation. If consumers perceive quality and safety as independent attributes, different decisions may be made depending on whether consumers focus on quality or safety issues in their food choices. However, if the two concepts are inter-related, and are implied by one another, food choices may always involve decisions about both quality and safety. (Rijswijk & Frewer, 2008).
Both qualitative and quantitative research has addressed issues associated with cultural determinants of food choice. It is evident that when analyzing factors that influence food choice it is important to take consumers' cultural backgrounds into account (Nayga, 1999). It is believed that people from different cultural backgrounds have different perceptions and experiences related to food (e.g., Rozin, P., Fischler, C., Imada, S., Sarubin, A. & Wrzesniewski, A., 1999). So the culture factor will be having an impact on our results because most of the house wife will not prefer the ready to cook meal because their mothers don't like this concept, they might have a thought which is not good for health, so these factors can have an impact on preference to use food.
There is a growing demand for the convenience of take-out food, and food service establishments are seeking to satisfy this demand (Food Institute Report, 2007). The current trend in today world is to consume the frozen food, package food, ready to cook meal or restaurant food because of the lack of time in current life (Lennernas, Fjellstrom, Becker, Giachetti, Schmitt, Remaut de Winter & Kearney, 1997). To live a good life every member of the family has to earn for the good living, so the trend is setting now for the ready to cook meal which can get ready as soon as possible.
The challenge is to find containers that keep the food hot, and are cost effective (Matsumoto, 2000). Initially in package food idea was introduce, it was having the flaws how to keep food hot and how to make it cheap because the idea was very costly. And when you think the consumer will be purchasing the food because every one has the different schedule, so the idea of ready to cook meal has come up, when you get home you just have to cook for around few minutes and have good hot food at consumer convenience.
Despite the increasing sales, it is only take-out and curbside services that are fueling the market. Consumer interest for dining in restaurants is not growing; the value to the current consumer is the ability to purchase already prepared food, and take it away to consume at home (Prewitt, 2002). Consumers are not interested in purchasing the prepared food because till they take that to home it may not remain fresh because distance from the restaurant to home can be long or short both, other perspective is that it has been observed that people don't like to eat as soon as they reach their home, they first like to fresh up, get relaxed and then loved to have food with their family, so ready to cook meal is very much good for these kind of people as it is safe, hygiene, taste good. This market is supported by single working people, and dual-income couples, with children or without, who are purchasing take-out food five times per week due to time constraints (Binkley & Ghiselli, 2005). In Denmark, the respondents of one research (Poulsen, 1999) believed that prepared meals provided convenience by enriching the every day diet. This
convenience may be supposed as promoting an 'easy way' of healthy living. However,
consumers also perceived unnaturalness and uneasiness towards the taste changes, higher
price, doubt about the enrichment effect, and uncertainty toward eating functional food products. On the other hand, attitudes were seen to be more encouraging towards the tangible aspects of functional foods. Some of these aspects, included enrichment with supplements of calcium and vitamins (Poulsen, 1999).
This chapter covers the detail information regarding method of data collection, research questions, and objective of this study, research hypothesis, data collection, sample size and technique. It also includes the tool which has been used in the study.
3.1Method of Data Collection:
The method of data collection was a personal survey technique. The data was collected from different housewives in whom both working and non working housewives were included.
3.2 Instrument of Data Collection:
The instrument used to collect the data was a structured questionnaire. It contained 10 questions, in which 3 questions were regarding personal information of the respondent, 2 questions regarding the usage of ready to cook meal and other 5 questions were regarding the effects of housewife quality perception of ready to cook meal on their preference to use. The different quality factors of ready to cook meal were considered like taste, freshness, storage life, hygiene, quality of ingredients in this questionnaire.
3.3 Sample size:
The sample size was of 150 respondents. The respondents were housewives who were to ask to fill the questionnaires. Two categories of housewives i.e. working and non working women had been considered in this study.
3.4 Sampling Technique:
The sampling technique used in this study was convenience sampling that based on random data collection.
3.5 Statistical Technique:
The statistical technique used for the analysis was regression. To find out the effect or impact of independent variables which were taste, freshness, hygiene, storage life and quality of ingredients on the dependent variable which was preference to use, we applied optimal scaling or categorical regression test because the data was based on categories.
In summary shows that the questionnaires filled were 100% valid and all 150 respondents filled the questionnaire. The value of Cronbach's Alpha shows the reliability of the data. It is greater than .50 so, we can process further our study.
. CHAPTER 4:
The effect of housewife's quality perception of ready to cook meal was determined by the optimal scaling which is categorical regression analysis, this technique is used to predict the impact or effect of the independent variables 'quality perception of ready to cook meal in which we studied taste, freshness, hygiene, storage life, quality of ingredients' on the dependent variable i.e. preference to use.
The ANOVA table tests the acceptability of the model from a statistical perspective. The table shows that there is no effect of taste on preference to use because the significant value is greater than 0.05. The significant value should be less than 0.05 to accept the model.
CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, FUTURE RESEARCH AND CONCLUSION
In the research an attempt was made to examine the quality perception of housewife towards the usage of the ready to cook meals. As the result shows that there is no effect of quality perception in which taste, freshness, storage life, hygiene and quality of ingredients variables were studied, on the preference to use of ready to cook meal. The significant value of all the variables came greater than 0.05 which means there is no impact of independent variables on the dependent variable and all hypotheses has rejected of the research.
In this research the women are involved from different areas of the city. Majority of women used the ready to cook meal and agreed to the statement that ready to cook meal makes life easier especially for working women. It was seemed that the common perception among consumers about the ready to cook meal is changing life style. The quality of food considered as the packaging and its appearance of the meal. On the other hand, women also like traditional style of cooking because they think that home cooked meal have a variety of ingredients and they can make their meal by their own style.
5.3 Implication and Recommendation
On the basis of this research we came to know that the companies which are producing ready to cook meals are recommended that they should advertise more their products because mostly people know just one or two companies which are producing these kinds of meals. And they should spend more expenses over R&D because it was determined during this survey that there is lowest impact of storage life on the preference to use. The companies should go for line extension in ready to cook meal because variety of consumers seems in market.
5.4 Future Research
The future research on the effect of housewife quality perception of ready to cook meal on their preference to use will need to take account of the observation that these concepts are strongly related to the safety of food and convenience of time. The other issue on which we can focus in the future study would be that how people from different cultures define the quality of food because every culture has its own style of preparing food, food safety have an impact on purchasing decision, and the brand's impact of ready to cook meal on the preference to use.
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