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Consumer Acceptance and Nutritional Expectations of Microalgae Protein Products: Insights from a Cross-European Study †

Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University, Coupure links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the 14th European Nutrition Conference FENS 2023, Belgrade, Serbia, 14–17 November 2023.
Proceedings 2023, 91(1), 87;
Published: 24 November 2023
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of The 14th European Nutrition Conference FENS 2023)
Alternative proteins, such as microalgae proteins, have the potential to mitigate climate change impacts and foster sustainable development. Microalgae proteins offer several advantages over traditional animal proteins, including comparable nutritional quality, lower environmental footprint, and higher production efficiency. Consumer acceptance is key to the successful development of microalgae proteins and is examined in this study. Within the EU-funded “ProFuture” project (H2020), a large-scale cross-sectional consumer survey was conducted in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands (n = 3027) [1,2]. The study investigated consumers’ willingness to try (WTT) food products with microalgae proteins and the potential determinants related to health, nutrition, sustainability, and product attributes. WTT was measured in general and based on various product types (bread, energy bars, pasta, plant-based sausage, plant-based cream, and soup) and microalgae species (Chlorella, Spirulina, and Tetraselmis chui). Consumers were categorized into three groups: ‘enthusiast’ (n = 1142), ‘uncertain’ (n = 830), and ‘uninterested’ (n = 1055) based on their WTT. Multinomial logistic regression with bootstrapping was used to identify the attitudinal determinants of consumers’ WTT for products with microalgae proteins, with a special focus on the role of nutrition-related expectations (Pseudo R2 = 25.1%). Generally, consumers were willing to try food products containing microalgae proteins. Key determinants differentiating the three groups included perceived product pleasantness and naturalness, general health interest, sustainability, and animal friendliness for food choice motives. In terms of nutrition-related expectations, perceiving products as rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein increased the likelihood of being an ‘enthusiast’ rather than ‘uninterested’; the perception of products as high in fiber decreased the likelihood of being ‘uncertain’ compared to ‘uninterested’. Comparing the nutritional profiles of ProFuture microalgae products with similar market products yielded insufficient evidence to conclude that microalgae products offer better nutritional profiles. Therefore, marketing messages for microalgae protein products should address environmental benefits rather than nutritional quality. Product reformulation and marketing communication to improve both perceived and actual nutritional profiles could enhance consumer WTT and eventually drive the market success of alternative proteins.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, Y.H. and W.V.; Statistical analysis, Y.H.; Writing—Original Draft Preparation, Y.H.; Writing—Review and Editing, Y.H., H.V.d.S., W.V. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the European Commission. This research work is part of the EU-funded project ProFuture (“Microalgae protein-rich ingredients for the food and feed of the future”) within the framework of Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 862980. The transportation to and from FENS Belgrade was funded by the mobility grant of The Research Foundation of Flanders (FWO).

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted according to the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki, and approved by the Belgian Ethics Committee of Ghent University Hospital (Reference No. BC-10402) in August 2021.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Van der Stricht, H.; Profeta, A.; Hung, Y.; Verbeke, W. Consumers’ willingness-to-buy pasta with microalgae proteins–Which label can promote sales? Food Qual. Prefer. 2023, 110, 104948. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Van der Stricht, H.; Hung, Y.; Fischer, A.; Verbeke, W. Consumer segments less or more willing to adopt foods with microalgae proteins. Food Qual. Prefer. 2023, 105047, in press. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hung, Y.; Van der Stricht, H.; Verbeke, W. Consumer Acceptance and Nutritional Expectations of Microalgae Protein Products: Insights from a Cross-European Study. Proceedings 2023, 91, 87.

AMA Style

Hung Y, Van der Stricht H, Verbeke W. Consumer Acceptance and Nutritional Expectations of Microalgae Protein Products: Insights from a Cross-European Study. Proceedings. 2023; 91(1):87.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hung, Yung, Hélène Van der Stricht, and Wim Verbeke. 2023. "Consumer Acceptance and Nutritional Expectations of Microalgae Protein Products: Insights from a Cross-European Study" Proceedings 91, no. 1: 87.

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