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Consumer Knowledge and Acceptance of “Algae” as a Protein Alternative: A UK-Based Qualitative Study

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

Foods, Volume: 11, Issue: 12, Start page: 1703

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

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DOI (Published version): 10.3390/foods11121703

Abstract

Overconsumption of meat has been recognised as a key contributing factor to the climate emergency. Algae (including macroalgae and microalgae) are a nutritious and sustainable food source that may be utilised as an alternative to animal-based proteins. However, little is known about the consumer awa...

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Published in: Foods
ISSN: 2304-8158
Published: MDPI AG 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa60152
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Abstract: Overconsumption of meat has been recognised as a key contributing factor to the climate emergency. Algae (including macroalgae and microalgae) are a nutritious and sustainable food source that may be utilised as an alternative to animal-based proteins. However, little is known about the consumer awareness and acceptance of algae as a protein alternative. The aim of this qualitative study was to develop a rich and contextualised understanding of consumer beliefs about the use of algae in novel and innovative food products. A total of 34 participants from the UK assisted with our study. Each participant engaged in one focus group, with six focus groups conducted in total. Existing consumer knowledge of algae was discussed before participants explored the idea of algae-based food products. Reflexive (inductive) thematic analysis was used to analyse these data. Results showed that consumers have limited pre-existing knowledge of algae as a food source; however, participants were open to the idea of trying to consume algae. This anticipated acceptance of algae was influenced by several product attributes, including perceived novelty, edibility, healthiness, sustainability, and affordability. These findings highlight algae as a promising protein alternative to support plant-forward diets in the UK and identify key attributes to consider in future product development and marketing strategies.
Item Description: The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. Full transcripts are not publicly available in order to ensure participant privacy
Keywords: algae; macroalgae; microalgae; seaweed; meat substitute; plant-based; alternative protein; consumer acceptance; consumer attitudes; qualitative
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]. R.E. also receives funding from the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, Project Reference: ES/P00069X/1, Studentship 1947139. T.R. also receives funding from the ESRC Wales Doctoral Training Partnership, Project reference: ES/P00069X/1, Studentship 2570975.
Issue: 12
Start Page: 1703