Bambara being harvested. ©University of Nottingham
New research conducted by the University of Nottingham has found that consumers were much more likely to accept new, unfamiliar ingredients once they were made aware of the sustainable features of these ingredients.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences conducted tasting sessions with 100 participants, where the consumers tried biscotti and crackers made with Bambara Groundnut against standard commercial products.
Bambara Groundnut is a grain legume grown mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. Bambara puts limited demands on soil and is capable of growing in nutrient-poor soils, and has been touted as a climate change-resistant crop. The ingredient is high in carbohydrates, protein, and is gluten-free, and could offer an alternative to rice and wheat flour.
For each sample in the trial, participants were asked to rate their overall liking and emotional response based on sensory properties of the product. The first tasting was done ‘blind’ with a red light masking the appearance of the products.
The participants were then invited back for a second session where they were informed about global resource challenges and the sustainable features of Bambara, and told which products contained this ingredient.
The study determined that the main driver for accepting this new ingredient was how people felt when given information about its sustainability credentials.
Dr Qian Yang, assistant professor in sensory and consumer sciences at the University of Nottingham said: “Under the blind condition, no significant differences in overall liking were observed between standard and Bambara products, suggesting UK consumers accept the sensory properties of products containing Bambara flour.
“This indicates as long as the products taste good consumers engage with the new sustainable crops. Interestingly, after being given the information about climate and sustainability issues we saw a shift towards more positive emotions towards the Bambara product and people felt guiltier when eating standard products.”
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