The paper addresses psychological factors causing distortions in the consumers' perception of product quality.
Also, some empirical observations of the phenomena on the fruit and vegetable markets - with special reference to the effect of origin and variety on the consumer perception --- are presented.
Perception is subjective and selective information processing.
In the case of habitual buying, rather simple information processing programs are used, which may lead to perception distortions.
Important to the perception process are the so-called key informations, which save the consumer a further search and processing of information.
In general, the appearance of fruit and vegetables is the dominant criterion for consumer perception.
However, in the case of tomatoes, a significant segment of the consumer population may use the information on the origin and the production method as additional information.
In the apple market important information is the variety, especially in the case of familiar varieties such as Cox Orange and Booskop.
If a product image is positive (negative), the consumer tends to exhibit a selective perception of the positive (negative) product properties which leads to a perception distortion and a stabilization of the positive (negative) image.
Taste tests with identical tomatoes with different origin labels show that these so-called halo-effects exist in the tomato market.
The taste perception of organic and/or field grown tomatoes is distorted in a positive direction, while glasshouse tomatoes demonstrate a negative halo-effect.
Taste tests with apples show a positive halo-effect for the familiar varieties such as Booskop and Cox Orange.