Study of consumer attitudes towards insect-based foods utilising Q method & the exploration of insect protein gels formulation.

Iliopoulou, Viktoria (2020) Study of consumer attitudes towards insect-based foods utilising Q method & the exploration of insect protein gels formulation. MRes thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The food industry will have to take advantage of novel sustainable food ingredients to meet the needs of the growing world population whilst attempting to reduce malnutrition, and the environmental impact of food production. Of particular concern is the need to meet the demand for protein due to the environmental cost of livestock production, changing diets and in many countries an ageing population. One of the novel sources of sustainable proteins is insects, due to their high protein content and low environmental impact, although there is a lack of acceptance by consumers in developed countries.

This study aimed to identify and describe the viewpoints held about insect-based foods by consumers at the University of Nottingham, via Q methodology. Forty consumers were asked to rank-order forty-seven statements in a table. The factor analysis revealed that consumers’ viewpoints clustered around four different point of views: the Informed and positive, the Informed and negative, the Informed with low sensory expectation and the Informed and satisfied but price-worried. The characteristics of each factor are presented and descriptors including socio-demographic, food neophobia, personal involvement, willingness to consume insect-based foods, awareness and preference of insect-based food product. These findings regarding consumers’ viewpoints on insect-based foods will be helpful in the development of marketing strategies and food product design with the overall aim of increasing insect consumption in developed countries.

The second part of this research aimed to investigate how insects could be incorporated into food products in an invisible manner, which has been shown to be more appealing to consumers. As an exemplar the protein from mealworm beetle (T. molitor) was extracted, characterised and gelled to assess whether these insects could not only be incorporated but add a functional property to a food product. Mealworm beetles were subjected to four protein extraction processes: an alkaline solubilisation and isoelectric precipitation (nAEIP); a salt extraction in phosphate buffer (SE); a sequential extraction (SEq); and an Osborne fractionation (OF). The protein extracts were compared in terms of extraction yield and molecular weight distribution using SDS-PAGE. It was found that OF and SEq had the highest extraction yield 19.3 %, followed by nAEIP and SE (15.4 and 5.9 %, respectively). While the molecular weight of all fractions ranged from 130 kDa to ≤ 14 kDa, the OF fraction gave more and better separated bands compared with the other methods. Moreover, AEIP and SE proteins had 3 bands with similar Mw (55-40, 18 and ≤ 14 kDa) while AEIP had one extra band (35-25 kDa).

Following characterisation, the gelation ability of two of the extracts (AEIP and SE) was assessed using two processing methods (heat and salt). The non-purified (nAEIP) protein extract was the only extract capable of forming gel, while purified AEIP (pAEIP) and SE (pSE) proteins did not form gel. For gelation of the nAEIP extract to occur a protein concentration above 12 % was required for thermal gelation, however with the addition of 100mM CaCl2 the protein concentration requirement decreased to 8%.

This research has highlighted the different viewpoints of consumers to insect-based foods and identified potential routes to market and designed food products to increase insect consumption. In addition, the gelation of protein extracted from mealworm beetles has been investigated and provides processing steps to incorporate insects into food products invisibly, which could also have the potential to increase consumers’ willingness to eat insects.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (MRes)
Supervisors: Gould, Joanne
Pagiaslis, Anastasios
Keywords: insects, proteins, foods, willingness, acceptance, products, gelling, gelation
Subjects: T Technology > TP Chemical technology > TP 368 Food processing and manufacture
T Technology > TX Home economics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Biosciences
Item ID: 60012
Depositing User: ILIOPOULOU, Viktoria
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2020 04:40
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2022 04:30

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