State of the art in benefit-risk analysis: Consumer perception

O. Ueland*, H. Gunnlaugsdottir, F. Holm, N. Kalogeras, O. Leino, J. Luteijn, S. Magnusson, G.J. Odekerken-Schröder, M. Pohjola, M.J. Tijhuis, J. Tuomisto, B. White, H. Verhagen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Benefit and risk perception with respect to food consumption, have been a part of human daily life from beginning of time. In today’s society the food chain is long with many different types of actors and low degree of transparency. Making informed food choices where knowledge of benefits and risks is part of the decision making process are therefore complicated for consumers. Thus, to understand how consumers perceive benefits and risks of foods, their importance in relation to quality evaluations are aspects that need to be addressed. The objective of this paper is to discuss state of the art in understanding consumer perceptions of benefits and risks of foods in order to improve understanding of consumer behaviour in the food domain.risks may be associated with both acute and long term consequences, some of which may have serious effects. Perceived risks are connected to morbidity and mortality along two dimensions relating to unknown risk, and to which extent the risk is dreaded by the consumer. Unfamiliar, uncertain, unknown, uncontrollable, and severe consequences are some factors associated with risk perception. Novel food processing techniques, for instance, score high on several of these parameters and are consequently regarded with suspicion and perceived as risky by consumers.on a daily basis, benefits of foods and food consumption are more important in most consumers’ minds than risks. Benefits are often associated with food’s ability to assuage hunger, and to provide pleasure through eating and socialising. In addition, two main categories of benefits that are important for acceptance of product innovations are health and environmental benefits.benefit and risk perception of foods seem to be inversely correlated, so when something is perceived as being highly beneficial, it is correspondingly perceived as having low risk. However, slightly different paths are used in the formation of these perceptions; benefit perception is based on heuristics and experience, while risk perception is to a larger extent the result of cognitive information processing.consumers are particularly conservative when it comes to perception and acceptance of foods compared to other products. Benefit-risk evaluations tend to be skewed towards acceptance of all that is traditional and well-known (benefits), and rejection or suspicion towards anything that is novel or highly processed (risks) regardless of actual risk. Knowledge of how consumers perceive benefits and risks of foods, may contribute to understanding benefit-risk perception in other areas related to personal, societal or environmental perspectives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-76
JournalFood and Chemical Toxicology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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