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Consumer Knowledge and Acceptance of “Algae” as a Protein Alternative: A UK-Based Qualitative Study
Foods, Volume: 11, Issue: 12, Start page: 1703
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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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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.
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
algae; macroalgae; microalgae; seaweed; meat substitute; plant-based; alternative protein; consumer acceptance; consumer attitudes; qualitative
College of Human and Health Sciences
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,