Despite edible seaweeds being a source of protein, amino acids, minerals and vitamins and being part of some traditional cuisines, they are not widely consumed and are not normally included within western diets. Some studies have reported a growing interest in seaweeds among consumers in some European countries; furthermore, there have recently been initiatives in the field of gastronomy to open up new prospects for the future consumption of edible seaweed. Within this context, this study aims to explore Italian consumer attitudes and perceptions of edible seaweed and to profile them in clusters based on different characteristics. Data were collected from a sample of 257 Italian consumers by using a web-based survey. Principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to reduce the number of variables and a hierarchical cluster analysis was performed on the PCA scores. The study findings showed that 76% of the sample were willing to eat seaweed. This this may be due to a familiarity with some traditional Italian dishes that use seaweed or to the spread of Asian gastronomy in the country. This willingness to consume seaweed may indicate that consumers are becoming more receptive to novel foods, in particular those that are healthy options or are more sustainable food alternatives. However, only 57% of respondents had eaten seaweed once in the past. The profiling of the sample produced an optimal solution with seven clusters based on different food habits and attitudes towards edible seaweed. This could be useful for developing the sector and promoting seaweed consumption. In five out of seven clusters, ranging from those with a very good to a poor conception of seaweed, consumers consistently paid attention to the health characteristics of food. For several clusters, seaweed characteristics and seaweed availability were revealed as important drivers for influencing consumer attitudes. More information about the health and organoleptic characteristics of seaweed should be at the center of any marketing tools aimed at promoting consumer acceptance. Such tools should also address main factors that could lead consumption choices and policy action such as including edible seaweed within recommended dietary guidelines. Furthermore, the development of the culinary and gastronomic potential of seaweed could be useful for increasing consumption amongst present and future consumers in western countries. These opportunities should be seized in particular regard to those consumer profiles that have shown good disposition towards and willingness to consume seaweed.
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgfs.2020.100202|
|Codice identificativo ISI:||WOS:000532786300012|
|Codice identificativo Scopus:||2-s2.0-85080082486|
|Titolo:||The potential of edible seaweed within the western diet. A segmentation of Italian consumers|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|