Quality perception of ready to cook meal

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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 and 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 was also factual that many of us did 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 housewives have more responsibility to cook meal; even housewives spent more hours away from home than the husband. For working women it seems daunting to give time to cooking after a long working hours. It was quite tiring to plan and prepare a meal for working women, where every day chores as well as office work had no avoidance. Working women has a more purchasing power however less time to cook and eat. There were options available for the food that fills the empty tummies which were 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. An easy way out have been found to this menu planning and making phobia. The easiest way out that could be was ready-to-cook meals.

Ready to cook meals are 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 was available in pouches and tin cans. It has 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 a person want to and it just have to do reheat and it's all done, Storage could be done easily. 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 has a nice deal unlike the consumable commodities. The adoption of ready to cook meal have become more easier specifically for working women against home cooked meal because working women usually haven't got the time to make varieties of meal on everyday basis. That's why working women has more likely to buy convenience products than the housewives. Daily dine out has not a healthy choice. Because restaurants has offered a heavy and fattening meals which were injurious to our health. So, the people who were health conscious and wanted a high quality meal or try a new eating experience, then the more preferred to have natural food ingredients then ready to cook meal was a good choice for those people, which was hygienic and tasty like restaurant food. While on the other hand, the advantage of making own home cooked meal was that can be prepare meal according to the preferences, some people like less spicy food. So, those people can add or eliminate the ingredients as per your desire. So the housewife have a complete control over making of meal and no preservatives used in it.

1.2 Problem statement

The research has been conducted was about to study the effects of housewife quality perception of ready to cook meal on their preference to use.

This research was 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 were 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 was arising in purchasing of substitution of purchased goods. Both the employed and non employed wives were going to apply Time-Buying strategies. But the employed wives take more care of their time so the decision made to go for convenience meals or purchase meals. Ready-to-cook meals have depended 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 were highly effective on buying of purchased food. When the women consider using ready to cook meal there were some variables like taste, freshness, storage life, hygiene, quality of ingredients, which came in mind and made comparison with the home cooked meal. In this report came to the knowledge that both working n nonworking women were willing to cook food tasty as well as quick. Although a fact that the added flavor in food through long, slow and simmering cooking but now women were finding other ways of infusing flavor that has seen in this study. Mostly women collected recipes' that took short time, some kept their pantry and freezer stocked with ingredients used in most quick tasty meal recipes. Some tasty and healthy shortcuts have made cooking trouble-free and delicious. The other significant variable to consider was storage of ready to cook meal. That discipline described how to handle, prepare and safe meal in ways that prevent food borne illness. That practice was to be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. Housewives were very conscious about food safety. Housewives didn't take risk for health of their families. And tried to Store their food properly and under the best possible position that had extended its life to its extreme potential. Freezing temperature could be exploiting to increase the life of many items for consumptions. Got the most out of the storage areas, definite conditions must be maintained. Those meals could be used heated, but could be eaten cold since they were already fully cooked. With the passage of time storage methods were changing with eating patterns. No women look like to be ready to spend hours in cooking foods. Even though, it means we just cannot have right to use to real time fresh food. But so was the need of time that has started showing willingness to buy meals ready to eat where no issues of storage arise. The quality of ingredient was another very important characteristic of meal that was considerable among consumers. That contains such features as texture, and flavor and so on. As well as ingredient quality, there are also hygiene requirements. It was important to make sure that the food processing surroundings was as clean as achievable for the production of the safest possible food for the consumer.

1.3 Hypotheses

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.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

Quality and safety has two important elements in consumer food perceptions and decision making associated with food choice, Grunert (2005). But the both quality and safety have two different and broad categories. If the quality has taken as benchmark it may include study hygiene, taste, freshness, health effects and storage life. Those five variables also lead to safety of food and if those five variables have 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 was to be understand that either women have interested in cooking food at their home or not or purchasing it from outside.

There was a growing demand for the convenience of take-out food, and food service establishments were seeking to satisfy this demand (Food Institute Report, 2007). The ratio of purchasing the food from outside was growing rapidly 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.

In the current years with the emergence of the supermarket culture, consumer preferences for the ready to cook meals have increased, Stewart-Knox and 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 were also very well aware of quality and preference to use food, Silayoi and 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 were very important before purchasing package food product because health has an important factor and consumers cant compromise in any kind of health issues(Ali, Kapoor and Moorthy, 2010) .

The desire for convenience and an increase in the number of working women were some of the significant factors driving a strong growth of packaged food products, Goyal and Singh (2007). Besides, consumers have now started preferring quality food intake and were becoming more conscious in terms of nutritional diet, health and food safety issues Ruth and Yeung (2001). The producers of the packaged food should take that factor in reflection because as trends have changed 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. and Deodhar, 2001).

As economies developed and incomes increased, people not only demanded higher levels of safety and quality in their food, Smith and Riethmuller (1999), but also expressed concerns about the environmental sustainability, the logical use of natural resources and the protection of farmers' and animals' health, Overby, Gardial and Woodruff (2004). Those 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 shake consumers' confidence in food quality and food safety. Furthermore, the increased technological change especially in the genetic engineering and its use in agriculture and food industry were generating much controversy over its costs and benefits with the majority of European consumers having a negative attitude towards genetically modified food (Verdurme and Viaene, 2003).

Where consumers were going towards package foods, at other side increase in health issue was another problem. So still there was a huge majority who was still love to cook food their home and preferred it more than ready to cook meal because for their taste, freshness, hygiene was more than the package foods (Hobbs, Fearne, Spriggs, 2002).

Consumers were believed to generally preferred products of high quality. However, the underlying cognitive determinants of "quality" and "safety" were not sufficiently understood within the area of consumer behavior, Rijswijk and Frewer (2008). Quality has always the benchmark for the people and in food no one like to compromise on it. The variable which was in discussion of hygiene, storage, freshness, taste and effect on health was the benchmark for the preference to use the food. People could spend premium price but have not compromise on the given variables because health has an important factor for everyone, Rohr, Luddecke, Drusch, Muller and Alvensleben (2005). It was important to understand consumers' own perceptions and representations of quality and safety. That was because consumers have based their purchasing decisions on those beliefs, Rijswijk and Frewer (2008). It was not necessary that the variable which was being considered is the benchmark for everyone, for some only three will be considered, for other seven attributes could be in their view. Consumers were 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 was an another view of judging quality by looking to other product looks because no one knows what was inside, how it was cook, etc. In addition, the interrelationship between consumer conceptualization of food quality and food safety warrants further investigation. If consumers perceived 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 were inter-related, and were implied by one another, food choices may always involve decisions about both quality and safety. (Rijswijk and Frewer, 2008).

Both qualitative and quantitative research has addressed issues associated with cultural determinants of food choice. It was evident that when analyzing factors that influence food choice it was important to took consumers' cultural backgrounds into account, Nayga (1999). It was believed that people from different cultural backgrounds have different perceptions and experiences related to food, Rozin, P., Fischler, C., Imada, S., Sarubin, A. and Wrzesniewski, A., (1999). So the culture factor having an impact on the results because most of the house wife have not preferred the ready to cook meal because their mothers didn't like that concept, they have a thought which was not good for health, so those factors could have an impact on preference to use food.

There was 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 has 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 and Kearney (1997). To live a good life every member of the family has to earn for the good living, so the trend set now for the ready to cook meal which can get ready as soon as possible.

The challenge was 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 the thought comes in mind that the consumer have been purchasing the food because everyone has the different schedule, so the idea of ready to cook meal has come up, when a person get home and just have to cook for around few minutes and have good hot food at consumer convenience.

Despite the increasing sales, it was only take-out and curbside services that were fueling the market. Consumer interested for dining in restaurants was not growing, the value to the current consumer was the ability to purchase already prepared food, and take it away to consume at home, Prewitt (2002). Consumers were not interested in purchasing the prepared food because till that time the food taken to the home it may not remain fresh because distance from the restaurant to home can be long or short both, other perspective was 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 was very much good for these kind of people as it is safe, hygiene, taste good. This market was supported by single working people, and dual-income couples, with children or without, who were purchasing take-out food five times per week due to time constraints, Binkley and Ghiselli (2005). In Denmark, the respondents of one research, Poulsen (1999) believed that prepared meals provided convenience by enriching the everyday 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).

CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODS

This chapter has covered the detail information regarding method of data collection, research questions, data collection, sample size and technique. It has also included the tool which has been used in the study.

3.1 Method 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 Sampling Technique

The sampling technique used in this study was convenience sampling that based on random data collection.

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 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.

3.4.1 Reliability test

Table 3.1 Reliability Statistics

Cronbach's Alpha

N of Items

.724

10

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, the study can be process further.

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, the optimal scaling or categorical regression test applied because the data was based on categories.

CHAPTER 4: RESULTS

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 was used to predict the impact or effect of the independent variables 'quality perception of ready to cook meal in which these factors were studied taste, freshness, hygiene, storage life, quality of ingredients' on the dependent variable i.e. preference to use.

4.1 Findings and Interpretation of the results

Table 4.1

Predictor

Model summary

ANOVA

Coefficient

Taste

R

R²

F value

Sig value

β value

F value

Sig value

.060

.004

.268

.766

-.060

.284

.753

The Model summary table shows that the value of R² has been very low i.e.0.004 so, the model was very weak. The ANOVA table tests the acceptability of the model from a statistical perspective. In this table the significant value came greater than the 0.05 i.e. 0.766. So, that there was no effect of model on preference to use. In Coefficient table shows that the significant value was low i.e. 0.753. So, that there was no effect of taste on preference to use.

Table 4.2

Predictor

Model summary

ANOVA

Coefficient

Freshness

R

R²

F value

Sig value

β value

F value

Sig value

.082

.007

.499

.608

.082

.652

.522

The Model summary table shows that the value of R² has been very low i.e.0.007 so, the model was very weak. The ANOVA table tests the acceptability of the model from a statistical perspective. In this table the significant value came greater than the 0.05 i.e. 0.608. So, that there was no effect of model on preference to use. In coefficient table shows that the significant value was low i.e. 0.522. So, that there was no effect of freshness on preference to use.

Table 4.3

Predictor

Model summary

ANOVA

Coefficient

Storage

R

R²

F value

Sig value

β value

F value

Sig value

.025

.001

.045

.956

-.025

.055

.946

The Model summary table shows that the value of R² has been very low i.e.0.001 so, the model was very weak. The ANOVA table tests the acceptability of the model from a statistical perspective. In this table the significant value came greater than the 0.05 i.e. 0.956. So, that there was no effect of model on preference to use. In coefficient table shows that the significant value was low i.e. 0.946. So, that there was no effect of storage on preference to use.

Table 4.4

Predictor

Model summary

ANOVA

Coefficient

Hygiene

R

R²

F value

Sig value

β value

F value

Sig value

.055

.003

.224

.799

.055

.277

.758

The Model summary table shows that the value of R² has been very low i.e.0.003 so, the model was very weak. The ANOVA table tests the acceptability of the model from a statistical perspective. In this table the significant value came greater than the 0.05 i.e. 0.799. So, that there was no effect of model on preference to use. In coefficient table shows that the significant value was low i.e. 0.758. So, that there was no effect of hygiene on preference to use.

Table 4.5

Predictor

Model summary

ANOVA

Coefficient

Quality

R

R²

F value

Sig value

β value

F value

Sig value

.075

.006

.833

.363

-.075

.440

.508

The Model summary table shows that the value of R² has been very low i.e.0.006 so, the model was very weak. The ANOVA table tests the acceptability of the model from a statistical perspective. In this table the significant value came greater than the 0.05 i.e. 0.363. So, that there was no effect of model on preference to use. In coefficient table shows that the significant value was low i.e. 0.508. So, that there was no effect of quality on preference to use.

4.2 Hypotheses Assessment Summary

Table 4.6 Hypotheses Assessment Summary

Hypotheses

R²

F value

Sig.

Value

β value

F value

Sig.

Value

Empirical Conclusion

H1: The taste perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.

.004

.268

.766

-.060

.284

.753

Rejected

H2: The freshness perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.

.007

.499

.608

.082

.652

.522

Rejected

H3: The storage life perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.

.001

.045

.956

-.025

.055

.946

Rejected

H4: The hygiene perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.

.003

.224

.799

.055

.277

.758

Rejected

H5: The quality of ingredients perception of ready to cook meal has a positive effect on housewife preference to use.

.006

.833

.363

-.075

.440

.508

Rejected

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION, DISCUSSIONS

IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH

5.1 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 was 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 was no impact of independent variables on the dependent variable and all hypotheses has rejected of the research.

5.2 Discussions

In this research the women were 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 has helped in 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 the common thought was that home cooked meals have a variety of ingredients and housewife can make meal by their own style.

5.3 Implications and Recommendations

On the basis of this research 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 the companies should spend more expenses over R&D because it was determined during this survey that there was 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 has need to take account of the observation that these concepts should be strongly related to the safety of food and convenience of time. The other issue which can be focused in the future study 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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