Children's food preferences and opinions can significantly influence their parents' shopping choices. Parents would buy plant-based burgers, sausages, and vegan nuggets if their kids wanted to eat more meat alternatives.
The latest research aims to help producers understand what kids preferences are and develop meat analogues that better appeal to children.
A new study published in ScienceDirect suggests that kids' perception of meat substitutes is influenced by product composition and sensorial aspects such as appearance, aroma, texture and taste.
Scientists from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands have surveyed 34 kids – aged either 8, 9 or 10 years old who usually eat meat on a daily basis. The kids were presented with a vegan burger and plant-based meatballs, as well as vegetarian options from two major brands.
The findings suggest that the kids perceive meat alternatives to be healthy, in no relation to the vegetable content and reduced amount of fat. Positive perception of meat alternatives is also influenced by palatability. The tastiness of plant-based meat was noted to be satisfactory for most children interviewed.
The favourable judgement of meat alternatives was also contributed by empathy towards animals.
Although the children value the packaging of meat alternatives when it resembles conventional meat, they are convinced the packaging should communicate that it contains an alternative product.
The research results suggest that there is a chance to move the younger generation from eating meat by improving the quality of plant-based analogues, especially the taste and texture.
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