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TABLE 18-1 Factors Influencing Consumption

Why Do People… Consume?

Not Consume?







Appropriate situation

Inappropriate situation

The second characteristic of consumption, availability, applies to food in general and also to the availability of specific items. Thus items that are unavailable because of seasonal variations or are out of stock in a store would contribute to nonconsumption of those items. In the military, food is only available that can be carried on one's back or supplied by a food service function.

The third characteristic of consumption, the hedonic feature of liking or disliking, has been given much attention in the food acceptance literature and has been used as the major predictor for whether or not foods will be consumed in both civilian and military populations (accounting for only about 50 percent of the variation in consumption).

The fourth and final factor of consumption is appropriateness or inappropriateness of the eating situation. In a broad sense this term covers all the aspects of the context in which food is eaten; thus ambient physical conditions, meal occasions, attitudinal states, and social environments can be included under this variable.

The dichotomous nature of consumption as shown in Table 18-1 is for illustrative purposes only. All of the factors are really on a continuum. The first three factors and all of the underlying conditions associated with them have received the greatest emphasis as predictors of consumption. Appropriateness is a relatively new factor in considerations of consumption, although researchers in the field have always qualified their results by indicating that to some extent the results were contingent on or confounded by the particular situation in which the measurement of both predictive and consumption variables were measured.

This chapter will analyze information from both consumer behavior research and from research on the cognitive and contextual aspects of eating, and determine to what extent this information can help create a better understanding of the factors that may contribute to underconsumption. In addition, some recommended ways to use this knowledge to improve consumption will be suggested.

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