Consumers' expectations and experiences of salad greens, herbs, and fruits from vertical farming: Comparison with organic produce

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Vertical farming (VF) is a novel and high-tech production system for several types of edible plants. Currently, these are primarily salad greens and herbs, but scope exists to expand into a broader range of fruits and vegetables. VF attracts considerable attention because of its potential to contribute to a healthier and more sustainable global food supply. Past consumer research points to dominantly positive VF consumer attitudes. However, knowledge is lacking about VF-grown product expectations and experiences. The present research is situated in this gap and used a comparative research strategy – VF vs organic agriculture. Using online surveys, product knowledge and sensory product expectations were studied among consumers in three European countries. This confirmed past reports of low VF product experience and found sensory product expectations to be less positive than those for organic product variants. Across a range of salad greens, herbs, and fruits, consumers expected reduced flavour intensity and less freshness in VF-grown produce. In two taste tests with commercial samples conducted in Denmark (∼190 consumers), actual product experience was measured. The key finding was disconfirmation of negative sensory expectations. VF-grown produce was not systematically disliked compared with organic counterparts. Moreover, there were no instances of VF-grown produce being disliked by consumers, on average. An analysis of the sensory drivers of liking for salad greens and herbs revealed the importance of variety characteristic flavours. That is, if growing, say, basil, then it is important that the product has an identifiable ‘basil flavour.’ This holds for organic and VF-grown produce alike.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105020
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Controlled environment agriculture, Product expectations, Product experience, Sensory quality, Vertical farming

ID: 372803711