Actas de la Conferencia > Contribuciones por autor > Morcillo Ripoll Yolanda

How COVID-19 affected consumers' preferences and attitudes toward foods with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
Djamel Rahmani  1, *@  , Zein Kallas  1@  , Yolanda Morcillo Ripoll  2@  , Delia Colomer Bosch  2@  , José Maria Gil Roig  1@  
1 : Centre de Recerca en Economia i Desenvolupament Agroalimentaris  (CREDA -UPC - IRTA)
Edifici ESAB. Parc Mediterrani de laTecnologia C/Esteve Terrades 8, Castelldefels, E-08860 Barcelona -  Espagne
2 : Departament dÁgricultura, Ramaderia, Pesca i Alimentació
* : Autor correspondiente

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has created one of the biggest public-health, social, and economic crises in the world, especially in the most affected countries (China, Italy, Spain, France, United Kingdom, and the United States, among others). Several countries were forced to order nationwide lockdown with different drastic restrictions to stop the spread of the pandemic. The consequences of this uncertain situation are drastic and are reflected by the increase of unemployment, the decrease of wages, and purchasing power, among others. This unpredictable and unexpected situation has created an atmosphere of fear, panic, and uncertainty among consumers. Literature (Kelly and Schewe, 1974; McKenzie, 2004; Zurawicki and Braidon, 2005; Atinc and Walton, 1998; Ang et al., 2000; Duţu, 2014; Flatters and Willmott, 2009) has shown that times of crisis alter consumer behavior. The behavior alterations are mostly reflected by a decrease of consumption, a fall of expenditure, a change in spending allocation, and elimination or postponing of major purchases, an increase of brand switching, a decrease of brand loyalty, an increase of price sensitivity, an increase of the use of discounts, price reductions and neighborhood shops, a higher emphasis on information process, shift in shopping place, a change in the relative importance of product attributes, an increase of preference for home products, and a decrease of waste, among others.

This study assesses the impact of COVID-19 on consumers' preferences and attitudes toward local food products. To this end, a survey was conducted in Barcelona (Spain) among 240 consumers in February 2020 (Before the coronavirus lockdown) and among 600 consumers in November 2020. The survey collected information on purchasing and consumption habits, knowledge, perceptions, preferences, and willingness to pay for the Reus hazelnut Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and L'Alt Urgell - Cerdanya Cheese Protected Designation of Origin (D.O.P.). A comparison of the data collected in February and November was undertaken to assess the impact of COVID-19.

Results showed that the COVID-19 increased significantly consumers' interest, preferences, purchasing intentions, and willingness to pay for Reus hazelnut Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and L'Alt Urgell - Cerdanya Cheese Protected Designation of Origin (D.O.P.). These positive shifts in consumer behaviors are in line with the different actions conducted by local authorities in the last years to promote the purchase and consumption of local products. Many of these shifts will form new consumer behaviors for years to come. Moreover, most of these new consumer behaviors are still forming, giving companies an opportunity to adapt to the new reality and to meet the new consumers' needs.

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