Posted 7 May 2015
Consumer awareness of a quality assurance scheme for soy is being explored through research by a final year Harper Adams food student.
22-year-old Sophie Seddon is exploring whether the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) standard is valuable for both industry and consumers.
The RTRS was formally established in 2006, and is a means of assuring consumers that products containing soy are produced sustainably and without the utilisation of genetic modification.
Sophie, who regularly consumes soy, also known as soya, said: “Soy is growing in popularity thanks to it being widely marketed as a healthy product through social media, being rich in calcium and B vitamins but low in fat. It’s also a good alternative for those with dairy allergies.
“But not all products are sourced sustainably. The issues of soy security and genetic modification are extremely topical at the moment and food businesses are striving to become more sustainable through their own corporate social responsibility strategies.
“My research indicates whether brand or variety has an effect on consumer behaviour and whether the RTRS logo has an effect on their purchasing habits.
“In doing this research, I also want to raise awareness of the RTRS and broaden consumer perceptions of soy and its wide variety of uses in the food industry.”
To conduct her investigation, Sophie hosted two one-hour focus groups with both rural and urban consumers, raising issues such as RTRS logo awareness, range of products consumed and general attitudes towards soy.
Sophie, a BSc (Hons) Food, Nutrition and Well-Being student from Norwich, said: “Initial results suggest that there is a lack of consumer awareness and knowledge of the RTRS logo, but people are willing to purchase soy products regardless of the brand or variety.
“As soy is a relatively new and fashionable product, consumer knowledge perhaps isn’t quite there yet and they are therefore missing product security and the assurance logo.
“But this has shown that soy is a growing trend and that there is great potential within the UK to source sustainable soy in the future.”
For her placement year, Sophie worked for a gluten-free provider and has been interested in health foods since her teens. She enjoys baking, swimming, interior design and furniture restoration, walking and is a student ambassador for the university.
She will continue to have a passion for gluten free and healthy alternatives, however, her real interest lies within the bakery sector and new product development.
Sophie will begin a graduate role within new product development at the Village Bakery next month.