Older consumers’ readiness to accept alternative, more sustainable protein sources in the European Union

Alessandra C. Grasso, Yung Hung*, Margreet R. Olthof, Wim Verbeke, Ingeborg A. Brouwer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is a growing concern on account of an aging population and its negative health consequences. While dietary protein plays a key role in the prevention of PEM, it also plays a pivotal role in the environmental impact of the human diet. In search for sustainable dietary strategies to increase protein intake in older adults, this study investigated the readiness of older adults to accept the consumption of the following alternative, more sustainable protein sources: plant-based protein, insects, single-cell protein, and in vitro meat. Using ordinal logistic regression modeling, the associations of different food-related attitudes and behavior and sociodemographics with older adults’ acceptance to consume such protein sources were assessed. Results were obtained through a consumer survey among 1825 community-dwelling older adults aged 65 years or above in five EU countries (United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Finland). Dairy-based protein was generally the most accepted protein source in food products (75% of the respondents found its consumption acceptable or very acceptable). Plant-based protein was the most accepted alternative, more sustainable protein source (58%) followed by single-cell protein (20%), insect-based protein (9%), and in vitro meat-based protein (6%). We found that food fussiness is a barrier to acceptance, whereas green eating behavior and higher educational attainment are facilitators to older adults’ acceptance to eat protein from alternative, more sustainable sources. Health, sensory appeal, and price as food choice motives, as well as gender and country of residence were found to influence acceptance, although not consistently across all the protein sources. Findings suggest that there is a window of opportunity to increase older adults’ acceptance of alternative, more sustainable protein sources and in turn increase protein intake in an environmentally sustainable way in EU older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1904
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2019


The present study was conducted within the PROMISS (PRevention Of Malnutrition In Senior Subjects in the EU) project, a five-year multicountry project funded by the European Commission (EC) Horizon 2020 aiming to understand the relationship between food, physical activity and biological changes and to develop dietary and physical activity strategies for the prevention of PEM among older European adults. This study used cross-sectional quantitative survey data that were collected electronically in June 2017 in five EU countries, namely, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Finland; n = ±365/country. Funding: This research work is part of the EU-funded project PROMISS (“PRevention Of Malnutrition In Senior Subjects in the EU”) within the framework of Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, contract No. 678732. Financial support from the European Commission is gratefully acknowledged.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 research and innovation program
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme678732
European Commission


    • Community-dwelling older adults
    • Consumer
    • Dietary protein
    • Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM)
    • Sustainability


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