Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Packaging Science

Advisor

Hurley, Rupert A

Committee Member

Tonkin , Charles E

Committee Member

Cooksey , Kay D

Abstract

The majority of menu items available in quick-service restaurants (QSR) are consumed directly from a container or package. The main reasons consumers choose to eat fast food are because it is convenient, prepared quickly, a good value, and inexpensive. Therefore, the packaging becomes an integral part of the food product and from a consumer perspective must be consistent with their expectations and motives for choosing to eat fast food. Prior research has directly linked characteristics of consumer food packaging experience to their perception of its contents. The purpose of this research is to determine if consumer quality perception of food products in quick-service restaurants varies depending on the material properties of the packaging in which the food product is presented. All materials were tested in a realistic QSR environment. The commonly used foodservice packaging styles and materials selected for testing included: a 14-pt paperboard clamshell, an expanded polystyrene (EPS) clamshell, an F-flute (micro-flute) corrugated clamshell, and a paper wrap. Sensory, functionality, and credence attributes were evaluated by participants. Preference and ranking response data was also collected. A self-administered computerized questionnaire, which was developed from the literature review, was used to measure participant response.
Findings from the research indicate that while the sensory attribute ratings did not differ significantly, respondents had significant preference for certain materials based on functionality and credence attributes, and perceived certain materials as more suitable for certain food products. Understanding what attributes are important to consumers in foodservice packaging enables the foodservice packaging providers and companies in the QSR industry to manipulate those attributes which are most beneficial for enhancing consumers perceived quality, while also improving consumers overall experience.

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