Plant-based meat substitutes: understanding consumers’ motivators, barriers, knowledge and consumption practices

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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury
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White, Samantha Karen

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the plethora of interrelated environmental, social, economic, ethical, and health issues associated with global industrialised food production—particularly concerning animal agriculture. Consequently, demand for more sustainable and ethical food products has increased as consumers seek alternatives to meat and other animal-derived products. Therefore, this research sought to understand the knowledge and consumption practices associated with plant-based meat substitutes to identify how dietary shifts and product adoption could be facilitated. This research utilised semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted in Christchurch, New Zealand, between August 2018 and March 2019. Interview findings from 25 participants were framed both using the attitude-behaviour gap framework, as well as a social practice theory lens. Consequently, several factors centred on individual, social, situational and product influences were identified to account for the gap between consumers’ attitudes towards plant-based meat substitutes and their reported behaviour. Moreover, material aspects (products, packaging, and infrastructure) were ascribed many meanings by consumers (values, normalisation, social consumption, transition, and convenience) and transformed through competencies (general and meat-free cooking, product and nutritional knowledge). The research presents several implications for theory and practice.

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