Consumer opinions on plant-based meat alternatives 2023

To understand consumers’ plant-based meat product expectations, thorough sensory investigations are needed. These research will reveal product preferences and acceptance. This intelligence will also help food firms meet customer demands.

Background

The worldwide population explosion has raised meat demand. Meat production, especially red meat, generates a lot of carbon dioxide and uses a lot of water, according to studies. Meat production uses a lot of arable land, hurting biodiversity. Meat eating also causes hypertension and cardiovascular illnesses.

A gradual movement toward a plant-based diet has resulted from meat consumption awareness. The food business is constantly inventing meat alternatives, but they remain a limited market. PBMAs and culture-grown meat are explored meat alternatives. Due to Impossible Foods Inc., Beyond Meat Inc., and MorningstarTM, PBMAs have the largest market share.

Many food producers use PBMAs to stimulate animal sensory potentials because sensory qualities influence food purchases. Plant protein structuring methods can produce high- and low-moisture textured vegetable proteins with meat-like texture, juiciness, and bite. Plant-based alternatives that resemble meat in texture, appearance, flavor, odor, and color have increased market acceptance.

PBMA makers must improve sensory qualities while keeping pricing affordable. Because the methods are time-consuming and expensive. Recently, the qualitative approach to sensory perception and why consumers like or dislike a product has been emphasized.

The Study

Food Research International examined if commercial burger information affects sensory perception. This study examined product preference ranking and animal/plant-based protein sources under blind and informed settings.

This study recruited Ithaca residents. All meat eaters were over 18. This study recruited 175 volunteers, average age 30. The study cohort had 53% students and 47% part-time or other workers. 57% were Caucasian, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders.

This study used four burgers: beef, hybrid (75% beef and 25% mushrooms), pea protein, and soy proteins with soy leghaemoglobin. These burgers are professionally made and sold in US markets and restaurants. The packaging instructions were followed for each burger.

2-3 bites were plenty for a 65g portion. Only salt was added. White paper containers with 3-digit random numbers held the burgers. Cornell Sensory Evaluation Center performed the tests.

Study Results

Beef burgers are a consumer favorite. The informed group disliked the pea protein burger the most. Peas’ less fibrous structure, legume flavor, and meat-unlike texture may explain this. Lentil-based plant-based burgers were least liked in earlier studies.

Most blinded testers favored the pea protein burger over the hybrid. Label information affects product impression, since the informed and blindfolded groups liked different products. All blind and informed tasters preferred the animal-like burger over the 100% beef burger. This showed that hedonistic satisfaction dominated preference.

The blinded testing group disliked the animal-like protein burger since it was not “meat-like” or “vegetable.” The educated group liked how the burgers looked. Plant-based meat replacements’ lipids, colorants, and proteins affect consumers’ perceptions. Moisture made mushroom burgers popular.

The informed group placed the hybrid meat-mushroom burger third, whereas the blinded group ranked it fourth. Appearance, off-test, and texture affected this result.

Conclusions

This study found that customers like plant-based and hybrid-meat alternatives because of texture and flavor. Future product development need this data. Before marketing, products must undergo comprehensive sensory studies.

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