Students' Perceptions of Food and Factors That Influence Purchasing Decisions

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Smith, Lindsay Marie
organic food; food; college students; perceptions
thesis / dissertation description
When it comes to food, college students need help selecting healthy food choices. Students are presented with many options to purchase food at grocery stores and restaurants and many of these options include organic food. Previous studies have demonstrated a need to investigate the college demographic and their purchasing habits when selecting food. The growth of news television channels, the Internet, magazines, and reality television have given the public a variety of choices to get their information. However, the credibility of their sources is not always trustworthy when it comes to agriculture. The goal of this study was to determine students? perceptions of food and factors that influence purchasing decisions. Texas A&M University U4 classified students in the departments of political science, animal science, biology, and agricultural leadership, education, and communications (n=578) received an online survey. The survey identified students? perceptions of food, the sources of information used to find food, food attributes, and the demographics that influence willingness to pay for food. Students in this study were more knowledgeable than previous studies with 70.4% of students identifying the correct definition of organic and 67% correctly recognized the USDA organic seal. This study also suggests that labels influence their opinion of food and ranked package information as the most important factor when ranking food attributes. Also, the study found that family does influence students? decision to purchase food and celebrities influence student?s students? perceptions of organic food.