Consumers' sensory-based cognitions of currently available and ideal plant-based food alternatives: A survey in Western, Central and Northern Europe

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Sensory experiences of plant-based (PB) food alternatives play a crucial role in the acceptance and, thus, growth of this market. To facilitate improvements and to better direct the PB food product development, it is important to identify potential gaps in consumers' sensory-based cognition between currently available and their ideal version of PB food and beverage alternatives. Sensory benchmarking of PB alternatives to chicken, beef, semi-hard cheese, cream cheese, yoghurt and milk was studied via (part 1) a sensory vocabulary development and, subsequently, (part 2) an online survey (n = 416–1829) in Central, Western and Northern European countries using the rapid sensory descriptive method Rate-All-That-Apply. For the PB milk and yoghurt categories, consumers demanded only minor sensory modifications, specifically, towards a less beany and sweet taste. In addition, PB milk and yoghurt alternatives received high liking scores (7.1 and 7.0 out of 9, respectively). Lower liking scores were reported for PB semi-hard cheese alternatives (5.3 out of 9). Sensory improvements of PB semi-hard cheese alternatives should be directed towards more cheese-like, less artificial and less bland attributes. For PB beef alternatives, the products in the category should have a more umami taste and beef-like taste and odour. A more chicken-like taste, texture and odour is desired for PB chicken alternatives. A more balanced, cheesier, less artificial taste and odour is desired for cream cheese alternatives. These findings provide strategic insights to direct the product development of PB food alternatives, which constitutes a pathway for creating new market opportunities considering consumer demand and sensory preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104875
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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© 2023 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Alternative protein, Consumer, Plant-based food, Sensory-based cognition, Survey

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