GLOBAL – A recent study published in the journal Appetite suggested that repeated consumption of plant-based meat analogues (PBMAs) over time does not necessarily improve consumer liking.
However, the context in which these plant-based substitutes are consumed plays a crucial role in how consumers perceive them.
The research aimed to explore whether increased consumer familiarity with PBMAs could lead to an enhanced fondness for these alternatives over time.
Past studies have indicated that consumer resistance to accepting PBMAs stems from factors such as unfamiliarity, negative perceptions, and social-cultural aspects.
While some research suggested that increased consumption can make foods more acceptable to consumers, there is a counterweight argument indicating that heightened exposure may decrease liking, making the foods appear “boring.”
The study sought to delve into this aspect, particularly focusing on the role of meal variety in mitigating potential consumer boredom.
Over a four-week period, participants were assigned the task of cooking two meals per week—one from a pre-set meal box and another of their own choosing.
Both meals incorporated two types of PBMAs: plant-based chicken and plant-based mince. Participants were divided into two subgroups, with one consistently using plant-based chicken and the other using plant-based mince for their self-prepared meals.
Participants filled out questionnaires before and after the four-week period, with an additional follow-up questionnaire four weeks later, detailing their consumption habits. A control group of 179 people was chosen to provide a comparative baseline.
The study measured participants’ liking of the taste and texture of PBMAs, as well as their overall liking of the meals, emphasizing the importance of the context in which PBMAs are presented.
The research found that while the liking of plant-based foods did not change significantly over time, it also did not decrease, potentially due to the variety of meals helping counteract any perceived ‘boredom’ from PBMAs.
Context proved to be a pivotal factor, with participants expressing a stronger “desire to eat” for their self-created meals compared to the meal-box options.
Overall meal liking displayed a strong correlation with liking for PBMAs, emphasizing the importance of incorporating these substitutes into meals.
Interestingly, plant-based mince showed a preference over plant-based chicken overall, but the difference was less significant when the two appeared in the same meal.
Although the study did not show an increase in liking for PBMAs, it did indicate an increase in usage. In the follow-up questionnaire, researchers found that those who had consumed plant-based meals continued to do so more frequently after the test period compared to the control group.