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Duckweed as human food. The influence of meal context and information on duckweed acceptability of Dutch consumers
- de Beukelaar, Myrthe F.A., Zeinstra, Gertrude G., Mes, Jurriaan J., Fischer, Arnout R.H.
- Food quality and preference 2019 v.71 pp. 76-86
- Araceae, consumer attitudes, diet, foods, green leafy vegetables, humans, ingestion, ponds, protein content, sensory properties, surveys, taste
- Duckweed is considered a promising source of protein for human food products due to its high protein content and environmentally friendly production properties. In order to achieve successful inclusion in the diet, duckweed should be presented to consumers in an acceptable way. This paper explores Western consumers’ perceptions towards duckweed as human food and investigates in what contexts duckweed could be acceptable to consumers who are not used to eating it. In a first interview study (N = 10), consumers generally responded positively towards duckweed as human food, although associations with turbid ponds also did come up. According to the respondents, duckweed belonged to the food category vegetables. So, duckweed was considered to fit best in meals where vegetables and greens are expected. In a larger online survey (N = 669), it was confirmed that consumers had a more positive deliberate evaluation of duckweed and were more likely to accept a meal with duckweed if duckweed was applied in a fitting meal. It was also shown that providing information about nutritional and sustainability benefits increased deliberate evaluation and acceptability for fitting meals, but decreased it for non-fitting meals. Automatic evaluations positively influenced deliberate evaluation and acceptability, supporting the ‘yuck’ effect, but they did not differ between the meal applications. The current paper shows that if applied in a meal context that fits with consumer expectations, under the assumption that sensory properties like taste are satisfactory, there appear no major objections from consumers against the introduction of duckweed as human food at a larger scale.