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Two new labs to study how consumers buy their food

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The University of Guelph has opened two high-tech labs to research how consumers shop in grocery retail and how they respond to ads

Family in the supermarket. Beautiful young mom and her little daughter are looking at each other and smiling, in the background dad is choosing goods

Guelph, Ont. – The University of Guelph has created and opened two new labs that will focus on consumers and their relationship with food.

The UofG NewsService reported on May 3 (High-Tech Food Labs Aim to Help Researchers Understand Consumer Needs) that the Longo’s Food Retail Lab and the Schneider’s Research Lab opened in May. Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc. and Schneider Foods provided the funding for the labs, which are found in the Macdonald Stewart Hall at the university.

Both labs will help researchers at the university “better understand consumer decision-making, consumption habits and reactions to food advertising.”

The Longo’s Food Retail Lab is created to look like an actual grocery store. Its aim is to gauge buyer behaviour patterns as consumers go about their shopping.


Michael von Massow, a lab researcher and professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, says their focus is on “how consumers value and learn about different foods and their decision-making when viewing advertising, and purchasing and consuming foods.”

The lab has monitoring cameras and eye-tracking equipment, so the researchers can keep tabs on how consumers respond to store flyers or television ads, and nutritional information. The consumers also fill out surveys before and after their visit.

In the Schneider’s lab, there is computer equipment so that researchers can evaluate consumers’ reactions to advertising.

“The federal government sees inclusive economic growth and jobs coming from food and agriculture, and it hopes to see Canada double food exports over the next several years,” says Malcolm Campbell, vice-president of research at the university.

“As Canada’s food university, we have a key role to play in innovation, and in helping the food and agriculture sectors to grow. The data learned here will assist researchers from across U of G in developing unique solutions to the challenges these sectors face.”

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