Consumer awareness and interest in Omega-3 fats and applications for marketing culinary camelina oil
Weems, Tyson Victor.
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Camelina sativa is a oilseed-bearing plant that grows in Montana and from which can be extracted oil containing 30-42% alpha-linolenic acid, an essential "omega-3" fatty acid. While researchers have associated certain health benefits with replacing other dietary fatty acids with alpha-linolenic acid and other omega-3 fatty acids, these are scarce in most Americans' diets. Current consumption levels are likely related to concurrent knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and other behaviors about omega-3s and fat in general. The purpose of this study was to interview and survey likely targeted consumers to identify potential challenges and opportunities related to these factors for building interest and commitment to use culinary Camelina oil. Researchers intended results to facilitate determination of practical strategies for introducing Montana-produced Camelina oil as a viable commercial food product. Fifty athletes from the Greater Bozeman area ages 14-70 years participated in focus group discussions and sensory evaluation tests.Researchers split participants into 2 groups for each age category (high school, college, and adult), yielding 6 groups of 6-10 participants each. Participants evaluated the sensory characteristics of culinary Camelina as well as Canola, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oil as straight oils and as components of spreads and vinaigrettes in a series of tests involving affective scales of like or dislike. Following the sensory evaluations, they engaged in focus group discussions concerning omega-3-related knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and potential Camelina marketing approaches. An additional group of 58 adult athletes completed a survey measuring knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors related to dietary fat in general and omega-3s in particular. Study participants expressed varied amounts of sensory acceptance as well as apparent preparedness to consume culinary Camelina. Overall, their feedback indicated some likely consumer interest in products containing the oil, particularly if marketed to adults or sold in a vinaigrette.