Stakeholder and consumer reactions towards innovative processed meat products: Insights from a qualitative study about nitrite reduction and phytochemical addition

Yung Hung, Wim Verbeke*, Theo M. de Kok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Web of Science)


This focus group study explored stakeholder and consumer reactions towards innovative meat products that potentially contribute to better gut health by means of nitrite reduction and phytochemical addition. This innovation might improve both the healthiness and health image of processed meat products, in spite of concerns and challenges related to safety, taste, price and communication. Stakeholders and consumers held ambivalent reactions towards this concept. The idea of replacing nitrite with phytochemicals, which were referred to as "natural extracts" in the consumer groups, was generally favoured by both stakeholders and consumers, albeit for different reasons. Nitrite received a negative health image among consumers, while phytochemicals were generally perceived as natural and healthy. Stakeholders supported the idea of putting more efforts into the development of these new processed meat products but found it difficult to communicate about this innovation to the public, as they felt an apparent gap between consumers' perceptions and facts might exist. Consumers' concerns mainly laid on the resulting products' taste, healthiness and shelf-life. In order to be successful, the innovative meat products were expected to possess desirable sensory characteristics and proven healthiness compared to conventional meat products. Future studies are warranted to provide quantitative insight into how to design and implement effective market positioning and communication strategies regarding this type of newly developed and innovative processed meat products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-698
JournalFood Control
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Consumers
  • Nitrite
  • Phytochemicals
  • Processed meat
  • Stakeholders

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