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Title:Consumer attitudes and willingness to pay for plant-based meat products: A health and nutrition perspective
Author(s):Kurawadwala, Husain
Advisor(s):Ellison, Brenna
Contributor(s):Schnitkey, Gary; Prescott, Melissa
Department / Program:Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline:Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
willingness to pay
plant-based meat
Abstract:Meat production is a key part of future food systems as meat is one of the most important sources of dietary protein globally but its production, which has rapidly industrialized in recent decades, is linked with significant negative environmental, health and animal welfare impacts. These negative impacts are leading consumers to seek products that are produced with fewer negative externalities than conventional products or seek alternatives to meat entirely. Plant based/vegan alternatives to popular processed meat products have existed since the 1960’s. However, these products lacked the taste, texture and protein content of meat products and were mainly marketed to vegans/ vegetarians. Improvements in food science and food processing technology have led to a new generation of plant based more convincingly replicate the taste and texture of conventional meat and similar amounts of protein content. The new generation of products are being marketed as “plant-base meat” and are targeting meat eaters and people who are looking to reduce meat consumption. Previous studies have shown that taste, price and healthiness are some of the most important factors that drive consumer acceptance of plant-based meat alternatives. Much of the existing literature on consumer perceptions is dominated by sensory attributes and environmental impact of meat alternatives with health and nutrition being looked at in a more general way. Recent criticism of popular plant-based meat alternatives has to do with their ultraprocessed nature, high sodium content and long ingredient lists with artificial additives. It was therefore important to look at the nutritional and health impacts of these novel foods in further detail especially if they gain market share and widespread consumer acceptance in the next few decades. To fill this research gap, we conducted a conducted a review of the nutritional composition of popular plant-based and animal-based meat products sold at the retail level in the U.S. We also conducted an online survey with U.S. consumers that assessed perceptions, likelihood of purchase, and willingness to pay for plant- and animal-based products. Within the survey, respondents were randomized into information treatments (control with no information, nutrition facts information, or ingredient list information) to determine how providing such information may impact respondents. The results of the nutrition composition analysis found that plant-based meat products have a comparable level of protein to animal-based meat products, were generally higher in carbohydrates and dietary fiber and lower in fat and cholesterol relative to their animal-based counterparts. Sodium content results were especially interesting. Plant-based burgers and grounds had significantly higher sodium contents than their animal-based counterparts; however, plant-based sausages, breakfast sausage patties and breaded products like nuggets and strips were lower in sodium relative to comparable animal-based products. It was expected that plant-based foods would be higher in sodium across product categories. Results of our survey found that consumers are more likely to purchase animal-based meat than plant-based meat and that people who have tried plant-based meat are significantly more likely to purchase these products and pay a higher premium for them. More frequent consumers of meat were more likely to pay a premium for conventional meat products. The nutrition facts panel treatment had reduced likelihood of purchasing animal-based nuggets and sausages and increased likelihood to purchase plant-based sausages. The respondents in this group were also willing to pay a higher premium for plant-based nuggets and sausages. The ingredient list treatment did not have a significant effect on likelihood of purchase indicating that consumers have stronger responses to the nutrition facts panel. Despite consumers perceiving plant-based products as better in most general and nutrition component attributes other than taste and price, likelihood of purchase of meat remains higher indicating that taste and price are key indicators of purchase behavior.
Issue Date:2021-07-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Husain Kurawadwala
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-01-12
Date Deposited:2021-08

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