How quality cues and attributes affect consumer quality perception in traditional food? An analysis on grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Cecilia Silvestri, Michela Piccarozzi, Barbara Aquilani, Alessandro Ruggieri


Purpose. Literature about quality in traditional food is quite developed, even if for cheese, quality cues and attributes – that is expectations about quality - have not been studied in-depth until now. Indeed, almost all papers analysed only sensorial attributes, and the post-consumption stage and other characteristics – i.e. price – without classifying them. Moreover, grated Parmigiano Reggiano has not been studied until now from a consumer perspective and only two papers have studied some of its sensorial attributes. This paper aims at filling these gaps in literature classifying and undisclosing quality cues and attributes in cheese, looking at how they affect consumer quality perceptions and expectations for grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, an Italian traditional food.

Methodology. The empirical analysis is based on a questionnaire administered in hypermarkets where grated Parmigiano Reggiano is purchased. A factorial analysis has been carried out through Stata 12.

Findings. Sensorial attributes studied in previous literature, together with quality certifications, represent a first factor able to affect quality perception, while geographical origin and packaging can be considered as a different set of attributes and, finally, price and brand is the third factor able to influence quality expectations as already found for other food products.

Practical implications. Opportunities given by packaging seem to have been underexploited until now in cheese and above all in Parmigiano Reggiano industry. Moreover, price and brand could play an essential role in both the protection and the valorisation of traditional food. For both of them a more careful management seems needed.  

Originality/value. This is the first study looking at quality cues and attributes able to affect quality perception and expectations about cheese making, a study on grated Parmigiano Reggiano. The study, which is the first which classify all cheese attributes following a quality approach – encompassing already studied sensorial and other attributes- opens the way to the application of the Total Quality Food Model (TQFM) also to the cheese domain. 


Quality cues and attributes; consumer quality perception and expectations; traditional food; sensorial attributes; cheese; grated Parmigiano Reggiano

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