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‘Edible seaweeds’ as an alternative to animal-based proteins in the UK: Identifying product beliefs and consumer traits as drivers of consumer acceptability for macroalgae

Rochelle Embling, Louise Neilson, Tennessee Randall, Chloe Mellor, Michelle Lee Orcid Logo, Laura Wilkinson Orcid Logo

Food Quality and Preference, Volume: 100, Start page: 104613

Swansea University Authors: Rochelle Embling, Tennessee Randall, Chloe Mellor, Michelle Lee Orcid Logo, Laura Wilkinson Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Edible macroalgae (i.e., ‘seaweeds’) are a nutritious and sustainable alternative to animal-based proteins. However, consumption of seaweeds in Western countries remains low, and little is known about individual drivers of acceptance. The aim of this study was to further explore the consumer accepta...

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Published in: Food Quality and Preference
ISSN: 0950-3293
Published: Elsevier BV 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa59878
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Abstract: Edible macroalgae (i.e., ‘seaweeds’) are a nutritious and sustainable alternative to animal-based proteins. However, consumption of seaweeds in Western countries remains low, and little is known about individual drivers of acceptance. The aim of this study was to further explore the consumer acceptability of seaweed-based food products in the UK. In an online study (N = 476), participants were presented with a general description of edible seaweeds, and descriptions of seaweed-based food products (e.g., ‘seaweed burger’). Participants were asked to rate beliefs about product attributes, and reported acceptance in terms of liking, willingness to try, willingness to buy, and readiness to adopt as a meat alternative. It was predicted that positive beliefs about seaweed-based products would be significantly associated with greater acceptance, and that seaweed-based products would be more favourable than a general description of seaweeds. Supporting study hypotheses, structural equation modelling showed that positive beliefs about taste/ edibility and familiarity significantly predicted acceptance (p < .01). Taste/ edibility was higher for seaweed-based products compared to a general description of seaweeds (p < .001), and perceiving foods to be tasty and familiar mediated the negative effect of food neophobia on consumer acceptance (p < .05). Other product beliefs – including cost, healthiness, and sustainability – were relatively poor predictors of acceptance (p > .05). These results support the consumer acceptance of seaweeds, and identify scope for utilising specific attributes of seaweeds (as drivers of acceptance) in future product development.
Keywords: consumer acceptance, algae, seaweeds, meat substitute, plant-based, consumer perception
College: College of Human and Health Sciences
Funders: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/V502200/1: ESRC IAA/DTP NPIF ABC]. RE also receives funding from the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, Project Reference: ES/P00069X/1, Studentship 1947139. TR also receives funding from the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, Project Reference: ES/P00069X/1, Studentship 2570975.
Start Page: 104613