Consumer acceptance of a ready-to-eat meal during storage using a home-use test

Primary Author: Maria Montero

Faculty Sponsor: Carolyn Ross


Primary College/Unit: Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

Category: Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Campus: Pullman




A home-use test (HUT) is a method on which a product is consumed in-home under common daily use circumstances. One product that benefits from being evaluated in-home are ready-to-eat meals (RTE). RTE must be processed so they are microbially safe, and a novel method to accomplish this is microwave-assisted-pasteurization (MAPS). Therefore, this study determined consumers’ acceptance of MAPS-processed jambalaya and control through an on-line HUT over a 12-week storage period. Paralleling the HUT, an online auction determined consumers’ willingness to pay. Consumers (n=50) evaluated MAPS-processed jambalaya stored at 2?C and a control (cooked-frozen jambalaya stored at -31oC) after 2, 8 and 12 weeks of storage. Acceptance of different sensory attributes (aroma, appearance, flavor, texture) was measured for both jambalaya samples using an online survey. After tasting, consumers participated in an online auction to bid on the meal they previously sampled- this was used to estimate their willingness to pay for each meal.

Results showed that the processing method (MAPS vs. control) didn’t affect the measured sensory attributes. No significant sensory changes were observed in most of the tested attributes of the jambalaya samples due to storage time; only flavor liking decreased over time. For the online auction, the bid mean values ranged from $3.48-3.74 for the MAPS-processed jambalaya and from $3.33-3.56 for the control, similar to the price of commercially available jambalaya meals. Using a HUT for evaluating consumers’ acceptance of MAPS-processed jambalaya seems like an effective way of testing acceptance of an RTE in a more realistic environment.