Thursday, 30 January 2020
The first UK consumer study on the use of Bambara Groundnut as an ingredient in products has shown that sharing information on sustainable features increased consumers’ positive emotional connection to food.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences tested Biscotti and crackers made with Bambara groundnut against standard commercial products. The study published in Food Research International showed that the main driver for accepting this new ingredient was how people felt when given information about its sustainability credentials.
With current global challenges such as population growth, climate change and water scarcity, it is critical to develop strategies to achieve food security. The University of Nottingham’s Future Food Beacon of Excellence and Malaysia campus along with Crops for the Future research projects have been investigating ways to tackle this by researching alternative crops that are resistant to climate change.
They have discovered that Bambara Groundnut found in Africa puts limited demands on soil and is capable of growing in nutrient poor soils where most crops would not thrive. Bambara is high in carbohydrate and protein and is gluten free so could offer an alternative to rice and wheat flour.
100 participants were invited to the University of Nottingham’s Sensory Science Centre to undertake two tasting sessions of biscotti and crackers – two commercial products and two with Bambara flour. For each sample 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.
Dr Qian Yang, Assistant Professor in Sensory and Consumer Sciences at the University of Nottingham led the research and explains what they found: “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.”
This study gives an important insight into how emotional response could be used as a way to encourage consumers to eat more sustainable products. Our participants’ positive reactions to the information they were given about the sustainable credentials of the products suggest this type of information could help with promotion when a new product is brought to market.
More information on the research is available from Dr Qian Yang at the University of Nottingham on email@example.com orJane Icke Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, on 0115 951 5751 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About the University of Nottingham
Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.
Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.
The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.
We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.