Purpose – The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether the perceptions of cleanliness and organization of the point of sale, hygiene and training of those who serve the public (service) and healthiness of the products, constitute a base for the perception of the quality of food sold in the street. Studies about development of street food trade have gained relevance in academic debate because of its social and economic significance. Usually, aspects related to sanitary issues are presented, and the factors that influence consumer perception regarding quality of food consumed are less explored. This was the focus of this work. The relationships among possible predecessors – attendance, cleanliness, organization and healthiness – were tested, all acting together, influencing the variable perception of product quality. Competitive models were tested because of theoretical divergences regarding the relationship between quality and healthiness, not yet totally clear in the literature.
Design/methodology/approach – A quantitative survey was carried out in the city of Diadema (SP, Brazil), getting 603 respondents, with data and theoretical models analyzed by structural equation modeling.
Findings – Results indicated that organization variable is not significant regarding perception of product quality, while attendance and healthiness directly affect this perception. On the other hand, cleanliness influences perceived healthiness and this, in turn, reinforces perception of product quality.
Practical implications – The focus of street food traders should be on clerk cleanliness and politeness (characteristics related to the service) that end up influencing the perception that the consumer develops regarding healthiness (characteristic related to product quality).
Originality/value – Usually research studies on this theme include only aspects related to sanitary and safety issues, and those which focus on consumer perception of food quality cover conventional outlets such as bars and restaurants. There are few ones performed as in this study that analyze street food consumer behavior regarding his/her perception of quality, cleanliness, care received, among others.