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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Consumer attitudes and beliefs towards plant-based food in different degrees of processing - The case of Sweden

Spendrup, Sara; Hovmalm, Helena Persson


The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of consumer attitudes and beliefs on three different types of plant-based meat alternatives (covering two highly processed Plant Based Meat Alternatives (PBMA) products: a. vegetarian nuggets and b. soy mince, and pulses: c. pre-cooked beans). The analysis was based on data obtained from a questionnaire-based survey (N = 483) conducted in Sweden in November 2020. Consumers were separated into four food preference groups (all of whom consume meat): 1. flexitarians (meat reducers), 2. omnivores (mixed diet), 3. consumers who prefer meat and fish (avoid vegetarian food) and 4. consumers who explicitly prefer to only eat meat (avoid vegetarian food and fish). Products were chosen with the intention that they represent products from a scale ranging from a less processed product (pre-cooked beans), via soy mince (a processed PBMA product) to vegetarian nuggets (ready-to eat processed PBMA). The two PBMA products were also chosen to represent one convenience product (vegetarian nuggets) and one product mainly used as an ingredient (soy mince). Gender, age, education, consumption frequencies, food neophobia, health concern, ranking of qualities, awareness of climate change, and the link between food and climate were explored. The results illustrate differences and similarities between the four groups in attitudes and beliefs as well as the three products. Flexitarians represent the group that expresses the most positive and sustainably connected attitudes and beliefs. Results also show that for all groups, PBMA products are perceived as more modern, artificial and expensive compared to pulses, which, in turn, are perceived as healthier and a better climate choice compared to PBMA products. Meat and "meat and fish" eaters attach much importance to taste, perceived protein content, satiety and domestic origin (from Sweden), whereas omnivores are guided by taste, ease of cooking, health, climate change, and the link between food and climate. The outcome is expected to support policymakers and market actors in developing target group applied strategies addressing differences among the four food preference groups, thereby increasing consumers' intake of sustainable plant-based protein-rich products.


Pulses; Plant Based Meat Alternatives (PBMA); Attitudes; Omnivore; Meat eater; Flexitarian

Published in

Food Quality and Preference
2022, volume: 102, article number: 104673

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of People and Society
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

UKÄ Subject classification

Food Science

Publication Identifiers


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