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ETH Zurich Singapore study examines consumer acceptance of microalgae-based foods

May 15, 2024

Singapore, a bustling metropolis with limited land area, is constantly seeking innovative solutions to guarantee food security. One promising avenue lies in microalgae, microscopic aquatic organisms packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. But will Singaporean consumers embrace these unfamiliar ingredients? A new study published in ScienceDirect has shed some light on this question.

The study, led by researchers Bianca Wassmann, Christina Hartmann and Michael Siegrist at ETH Zurich, investigated the factors influencing consumer acceptance of microalgae-based foods. The researchers surveyed more than 500 Singaporean residents, exploring their perceptions, attitudes, and purchase intentions towards these novel foods.

The researchers highlight several reasons why microalgae are attracting attention as a sustainable and nutritious food source. Microalgae can be cultivated efficiently, requiring minimal land and water compared to traditional agriculture. Additionally, they boast an impressive nutritional profile, rich in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Some varieties even contain beneficial antioxidants and prebiotics.

The study identified several key factors influencing consumer acceptance of microalgae-based foods. The following is a breakdown of the researchers' findings.

A general aversion to trying new foods emerged as a significant barrier. Consumers unfamiliar with microalgae might be hesitant due to their unfamiliarity and green appearance. To address this, educational campaigns could familiarize consumers with microalgae and their potential health benefits.

The taste, texture, and overall sensory experience of microalgae-based foods significantly impact consumer acceptance. The researchers suggest incorporating microalgae into familiar food formats or masking any unpleasant flavors to enhance palatability. Collaboration between scientists, food developers, and chefs is essential to create appealing and delicious microalgae-based products.

Consumers who perceive microalgae-based foods as healthy and nutritious are more likely to try them. Highlighting the potential health benefits of microalgae, such as improved gut health or boosted immunity, could be an effective marketing strategy.

The environmentally friendly nature of microalgae production resonated with some consumers. Promoting microalgae as a sustainable food source could appeal to environmentally conscious individuals.

The study emphasizes the importance of providing consumers with clear information about microalgae, their safety, and the production process. Transparency can build trust and encourage consumers to embrace these novel ingredients.

The researchers acknowledge that overcoming consumer neophobia and building trust are crucial for the successful introduction of microalgae-based foods. Educational campaigns to familiarize consumers with microalgae and address any safety concerns are essential. Additionally, collaboration between scientists, food developers, and chefs is key to creating appealing and delicious microalgae-based products.

The findings of this study hold significance not only for Singapore but also for other countries seeking sustainable and alternative food sources. As the world grapples with population growth and climate change, microalgae offer a promising solution for food security. By understanding consumer preferences and implementing effective marketing strategies, microalgae-based foods have the potential to become a mainstream part of our future diets.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

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