There has long been substantial interest in understanding consumer food choices, where a key complexity in this context is the potentially large amount of heterogeneity in tastes across individual consumers, as well as the role of underlying attitudes towards food and cooking. The present paper underlines that both tastes and attitudes are unobserved, and makes the case for a latent variable treatment of these components. Using empirical data collected in Northern Ireland as part of a wider study to elicit intra-household trade-offs between home-cooked meal options, we show how these latent sensitivities and attitudes drive both the choice behaviour as well as the answers to supplementary questions. We find significant heterogeneity across respondents in these underlying factors and show how incorporating them in our models leads to important insights into preferences.
O’Neill, V.L., Hess, S. & Campbell, D. (2014), A question of taste: recognising the role of latent preferences and attitudes in analysing food choices. Food Quality and Preferences, 32C, pp 299-310.