Communicating upcycled foods: Frugality framing supports acceptance of sustainable product innovations

Elsevier, Food Quality and Preference, Volume 100, September 2022
Aschemann-Witzel J., Asioli D., Banovic M., Perito M.A., Peschel A.O.
Future sustainable food systems should more efficiently use natural resources and reduce food waste. Upcycled food – foods elevated in value through ingredients otherwise wasted or previously thought inedible – constitutes a new approach contributing to this much needed transition. Successful market launches of such foods requires favourable consumer perception of these products, knowing the factors determining acceptance, and an adequate communicational framing of the new concept. However, consumer perception of upcycled food is yet under-researched, in particular across food categories and countries, and the concept of frugality has not been explored in this context. In a consumer survey assessing the factors of influence on attitude towards upcycled food and with a sample across five Northern and Southern European countries, we show that stressing the aspect of traditional frugality and to appeal to frugal orientation appears a favourable communication frame for upcycled food. Product categories that match with the region are perceived as more favourable. Environmental concern determines attitude while food neophobia acts as a barrier. Our results lead us to recommend that marketing for upcycled food should focus on the environmentally concerned consumer segment and use a framing that communicates the frugality benefit and frugal resource use. Findings further provide insights into the psychology of consumer acceptance and attitudes. These can be used in communicating the nature of upcycled foods to the public and to food consumers.