Transitions in consumer diets towards a more ‘meat-less’ diet are stated to result in various health and environmental benefits. Consumption of alternative proteins provides one of the alternatives towards more meat-less diets. Alternative proteins receive a lot of attention, however it is unclear whether consumer acceptance is changing over time. Moreover, changing consumers’ dietary habits is harsh. The current study explores with a longitudinally study whether trends are visible in consumer acceptance of alternative proteins, and which drivers are relevant to understand acceptance of alternative proteins over time.
An online survey was conducted in the Netherlands resulting in two types of samples: a longitudinal sample (500 respondents) that answered the same survey in 2015 and 2019, and cross-sectional samples that answered the survey in 2015 (2,461 respondents) or in 2019 (2,000 respondents). The survey addressed a range of possible drivers, including personal norms, food innovation traits (i.e. food neophobia and domain-specific innovativeness), food-choice motives and positive and negative emotions. Respondents were randomly divided into five groups and presented with specific questions on: fish, seaweed, insects, legumes and cultured meat.
The results reveal an increase in the intention to consume seaweed, legumes, and cultured meat over time, though self-reported consumption remains stable indicating an intention-behaviour gap. Positive emotions appear to be the most relevant driver for intention (beyond all other included variables), and intentions in turn are the most relevant driver of consumption. Thus indicating the relevance of positive emotions as joy, content and pride. Implicating that interventions, promotions and communications should not only focus on cognitive added values as environmental impact though also include affective communication messages, e.g., consumption of alternative proteins feels good.