Objective: To identify consumer perceptions of whole milk, reduced-fat milk and soy milk, and to investigate demographic influences on perceptions and types of milk consumption.
Design and setting: Questionnaires covering nutritional and sensory perceptions of three types of milk.
Subjects: Three hundred and sixty-one randomly selected shoppers in Melbourne, Australia.
Results: Generally, respondents held positive perceptions about milk. Milk was considered as having good sensory properties, providing a good source of nutrients, and being a convenient and safe product. However, despite these findings, misperceptions and unawareness about the nutrient content of milk were prevalent. Negative perceptions were most common for whole milk and were mostly related to its perceived high fat, cholesterol and energy contents. Soy milk received lower ratings on sensory quality and convenience than dairy milk. There were few sociodemographic differences in consumers' perceptions. Although reduced-fat milk consumption was more frequent among elderly people and type of milk consumption was related to parenthood, no other significant effects of demographic variables were found on the consumption of specific milk types.
Conclusion: Although positive perceptions were common, negative perceptions and misperceptions appear to be prevalent, presenting a challenge for nutrition education. Sociodemographic factors were not shown to be important predictors of perceptions and type of milk consumption.