Food industry awareness of consumers’ plant food beliefs
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Purpose – The aims of this study were to examine farmers’ and food processors’ alignment with consumers’ views about plant foods and their intentions to produce plant foods.
Design/methodology/approach – Data on plant food beliefs were collected from mail surveys of farmers, food processing businesses and random population samples of adults in Victoria, Australia.
Findings – There were strong differences between consumers’ beliefs and farmers’ and food processors’ perceptions of consumers’ beliefs. For example, a higher proportion of farmers and processors believed that consumers would eat more plant foods if more convenience-oriented plant-based meals were available than consumers themselves agreed. Farmers appeared to be more aware of or aligned with consumers’ beliefs than were processors. One- and two-thirds of farmers and processors respectively were planning to grow or process more plant foods, which bodes well for the availability of plant and plant-based foods.
Research limitations/implications – Study limitations include the small food industry sample sizes and possible response bias, although analysis suggests the latter was low. Future research could survey a larger sample of food industry representatives, including those from other sectors (e.g. retailers).
Practical implications – Education of consumers and industry groups on plant foods and better lines of communication from consumer to processor to farmer, are required.
Originality/value – To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to examine farmers’ and food processors’ awareness of consumers’ beliefs about plant foods. This issue is important for those involved with the production and marketing of plant foods or with food, farming and health policy.