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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2024

Consumer attitudes towards hydroponic cultivation of vegetables - Specifically exploring the impact of the fertilisation strategy (using mineral origin or food waste as fertilisers)

Spendrup, Sara; Bergstrand, Karl-Johan; Thörning, Rebecca; Hultberg, Malin

Abstract

This study explores consumer attitudes and beliefs towards hydroponics (growing without soil), as well as the willingness to eat vegetables grown using two different fertilisation strategies (mineral and food waste). The impact of food neophobia, connectedness to nature and awareness of ongoing climate change is also explored. Data were collected through a survey (October 2021) with 1,000 Swedish respondents. Less than half of the respondents were aware of hydroponics, with no differences due to gender or age. Nonetheless, education turned out to be a predictor. No differences were seen in attitude due to gender or level of education, yet a slightly more positive attitude was found among older respondents and a more positive attitude among those who had not heard about hydroponic systems before. Food neophobia and higher age only (negatively) predicted the willingness to eat food with input from food waste, whereas connectedness to nature did not predict willingness to eat vegetables from any of the two fertilising systems. A belief in climate change had a positive impact on the willingness to eat vegetables from both systems. The results revealed significant differences between the two systems, with the circular perceived as significantly more natural, environmentally friendly, more exciting, representing the future, more energy efficient, more innovative as well as more positive overall, compared to the mineral. These qualities could be used by stakeholders when communicating these new systems. The results support the understanding that hydroponics is a food technology to which consumers express positive attitudes and beliefs.

Keywords

Consumer attitude; Fertiliser; Food waste; Hydroponics; Vegetables

Published in

Food Quality and Preference
2024, Volume: 113, article number: 105085