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May 20, 2002 -- News Brief

Brand managers from Romania learn about using soy

Wansink lectures to the visitors.Eleven Romanian brand managers, vice-presidents, and CEOs spent a day on the University of Illinois campus to learn about research conducted by the Food and Brand Lab on increasing consumer acceptance of soy products. Business Administration Professor Brian Wansink (photo left with back to camera), who also directs the Food and Brand Lab, hosted the group.

Of principle interest were two research projects targeted at Eastern Europe that concluded that the best way to introduce soy protein to local diets is by first including it as a meat filler and then introducing it through institutional means (hospital food and hot lunch programs). The final phase would be to move to sales to individual homes. Dubbed the "hot dogs to hospitals to households" strategy, this plan will be unveiled in the lead article in the upcoming issue of the Review of Agricultural Economics.

Romanians pose in the classroom.The Food and Brand Lab has been actively evaluating how to integrate unfamiliar food products into a culture. Research has confirmed that many unknown cultural factors are at work that complicate the integration of a new product into a culture. In a study of Russia and Columbua, staff developed an initial framework for increasing consumption of a commodity while taking into consideration cultural context and utilitarian/hedonic food perceptions. The template can be used for the introduction of unfamiliar foods around the world.

The Food and Brand Lab was founded in 1992 to conduct research into why consumers buy what they buy and eat what they eat. Previous research has focused on smart shopping, revitalizing brands, and the buying habits of the World War II generation.


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