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Consumers as co-creators in engineering of protein enriched products

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Start time (UTC): 
2016-November-29, 14:00
Presenter name: 
Marija Banovic
Presenter institution: 
Aarhus University

Involving consumers as co-creators in a process of engineering of food products is a vital factor for new product development. Research and development of food products is often characterized by producing novel ideas that are implemented without involving the people that will be actually using these solutions. Co-creation process highlights the importance of involving the end-user when working on novel products and testing ideas in real-life contexts. Consumers are likely to ignore a food product if it is not relevant for addressing a specific consumption problem.

Recently, incorporating additional protein into one’s diet has been found to have a multitude of health benefits, including weight control, decrease of muscle waste, as well as combating aging, and is gaining popularity among consumers. As a consequence the market of protein enriched foods is steadily growing with innovative products being responsible for this increased growth. Product developers are facing difficult task of producing products that will appeal to their target consumers.

This study uses qualitative research techniques, such as creative methods, to involve consumers in the process of modification and creation of new protein enriched products. More specifically, besides traditional qualitative approaches, user profile and storyboarding creative task were used for creation of new product ideas for protein enrichment. Data was collected in four European countries (i.e. Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Romania). The results imply that the combination of the protein type as functional ingredient and food carrier, closer to conventional foods plays important role in consumer acceptance of foods with increased protein content. Consumers express certain scepticism towards protein enriched foods at the general level, but lower levels of doubts in the context of the concrete choices of protein enriched foods. Understanding of the concept of foods with ‘increased protein’ content was limited, but understanding of proteins in general, and animal and plant proteins in particular was better and self-explanatory.  The results indicate low levels of distinction between conventional foods (source of protein foods) and foods with increased protein content, no matter whether foods with animal or plant proteins were mentioned. Eight product ideas were generated through a creative task for each of the user profiles: health-oriented user, protein-deficient user, and vegetarian-user.  Future use and acceptance of foods with increased protein content will depend on the extent to which consumer’s general concerns as users about incorporating additional protein into a diet can be turned into actual products.