Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Public and environmental health

Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Science in Food Safety Management to the Technological University Dublin, 2020


One of the major challenges manufactures are facing is the fact that consumer’s personal health standards are changing constantly, modern consumers are willing to know more about the ingredients used in their food. The relationship with ethics and sustainability is leading to changes in the food industry. Seen this, manufactures are opting for other sources of ingredients, such as plant-based alternatives. However, the use of these sort of products need to be developed due to of their unknown properties. The use of sustainable plant proteins provides a variety of benefits to the product, such as added nutritional value as fiber, proteins and antioxidants, emulsion formation, product stability and extended shelf-life. There is a wide variety of plant-based proteins used in the food industry. The most common protein from animal origin used in the food industry are whey protein (Concentrate/Isolate) and casein, egg protein and egg lecithin which provide a strong emulsion thickness. Sustainable plant based proteins are being widely used, such as pea protein, tea saponin, potato protein, soy beans and microalgae and they provide similar or even better emulsion stability and nutritional benefits. This research was conducted with 281 people, the aim is to identify behaviours, knowledge, attitudes, preferences, and awareness levels associated with sustainable sources of plant-based proteins used as ingredient in the food industry versus animal origin proteins of people living in Ireland. The findings identified that consumers are demanding for more accurate information on product ingredients description and benefits, the food industry is developing new methods for the better usage of plant-based proteins and improvement of their natural properties, providing improved sensory, physical and nutritional properties to the final product. This study observed that consumers are not fully aware of plant-based proteins used as product ingredient, neither are aware of their nutritional benefits. The sensory test exposed that consumers showed to still prefer whey protein sensory characteristics, when compared to plant-based proteins. The majority confirmed to be aware of the relationship of the use of more sustainable sources of food proteins and the development of a fully sustainable food chain and with the future health of the planet. Moreover, we can relate these facts with consumers’ willingness to pay a small increase of value for a sustainable food product, in contradiction, when considering purchase attributes, sustainability was the last considered, the firstly considered were nutrition and cost. The results from this study highlight the need for more research in this area, with the aspiration to enforce the usage of more plant-based proteins as product ingredient, improving nutrition and emulsification properties.