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Keywords:

  • western Balkan countries;
  • traditional cheese;
  • consumer preferences;
  • conjoint analysis;
  • cross-cultural segmentation

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Western Balkan countries (WBCs) have a long-standing culinary tradition. The promotion of traditional foods may be a tool for coping with modernisation trends in such transition economies. This paper explores consumer preferences toward food in this region, focusing on a traditional fresh cow cheese locally called ‘Mladi Sir’. This product was quoted in all the preliminary focus groups as a common traditional product present in the six WBCs studied: Bosnia–Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

RESULTS

After a literature review investigating the concept of traditional food in WBCs and the implementation of focus groups, a survey including a conjoint analysis on preferences for fresh cow cheese was carried out in 2011 to collect data from 1200 respondents. Four clusters of consumers were identified: one focused more on the local origin; one oriented more toward the scale of production (on-farm and small dairy); the third favouring low prices and the fourth preferring high prices and industrial products.

CONCLUSION

Policy makers and the supply chain could take these differences in consumer preferences regarding traditional food products into account in order to develop specific strategies. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry