Willingness to eat bread with health benefits: habits, taste and health in bread choice.Public Health 2019; 167:78-87PH
The association between the perceived importance of taste and health benefits and bread-eating habits is still not well recognized referring to products with the improved health value, in particular when it comes to the character of the health modification applied in the food product. In many populations, the crucial issue is to decrease the intake of salt and to increase the intake of fibre in the diet; therefore, modifications in foods concern these components. Thus, the aim of the study was two-fold: (1) to determine the association between the actual consumption of bread and the willingness to eat the bread with the decreased level of salt and the bread with the increased level of fibre; and (2) to determine whether and in what way the perception of the importance of taste and health benefits of bread are linked with the willingness to eat bread with the improved health benefits.
The survey was conducted using computer-assisted personal interviews.
The survey was conducted in October 2014 among 1014 Polish consumers. To evaluate the consumption of bread, questions concerning (1) the frequency of eating white bread, white bread with added grains, bran and so on and wholemeal bread, and (2) the amount of consumed bread were asked. The logistic regression analysis was performed separately for bread with fibre addition and bread with reduced salt content. Only statistically significant variables were used in the models, using an automatic stepwise method.
The results of the study showed that consumers who were more willing to eat bread with added fibre were those who paid more attention to health aspects, those who consumed more wholemeal bread and those who ate breads with grains more frequently. Participants declaring moderate and high importance towards health benefits were more willing to eat bread with increased fibre content than those declaring minor importance of health benefits when choosing bread. Among consumers who were more willing to eat bread with reduced salt content, they were mainly those who ate more wholemeal bread. Participants for whom the taste was important and moderately important were less willing to eat bread with reduced salt content compared with those who considered this attribute as unimportant. When it comes to people who were less willing to eat bread with added fibre, they ate white bread more frequently and consumed bigger amounts of it. Those who were less interested in bread with reduced salt content declared consuming more white bread. Among them, there were also men and people for whom the taste of bread was crucial.
It is necessary to increase the consumers' awareness of the health benefits of a product change and to gain their acceptance for the changed taste. The strength of this study is the measure of the amount of bread consumed by consumers as a variable that can be associated with the willingness to eat bread with improved health benefits. Results of our study may be valuable for undertaking activities referring to the public health, including educational activities aimed at the consumers. Thus, a public health campaign is needed to encourage Polish consumers to use less salt and more dietary fibre, which seems to increase the importance of health reasons instead of taste in the selection of bread. The outcomes can also be used by the companies operating on the food market with a particular emphasis on the bread offer to develop communication strategies, including the proper and clear information about the level of salt and fibre content. Moreover, food companies and consumer organisations should exert pressure on the government for greater support for product reformulation, for example, in the form of regulation, enforcing companies to reformulate their products. In fact, a proper policy emphasis on mandatory reformulation to reduce salt in processed foods is likely to be an effective and inequality-reducing route to improve the population health.