Consumer perceptions and preferences for urban farming, hydroponics, and robotic cultivation: A case study on parsley

Journal Article
Author(s): Giovanbattista Califano, Anders Crichton-Fock, Charles Spence
Year: 2024

Consumer attitudes toward novel fresh herb cultivation methods, including urban farming, hydroponics, and robotic cultivation, were explored among 148 participants in the UK. Urban farming emerged as the preferred method, followed by hydroponics, while robotic cultivation was least favoured. The study tested two hypotheses regarding the influence of environmental concern on acceptance of parsley from the different methods, and the impact of food technology neophobia on acceptance of parsley from hydroponics and robotic cultivation. Consumer levels of environmental concern positively influenced their acceptance of parsley from urban farming, while food technology neophobia negatively impacted the consumer acceptance of hydroponic and robotic cultivation methods. The study underscores the perceived natural elements inherent in these methods. Urban farming seems to align well with consumers’ values of nature and sustainability. Tailored messaging highlighting the natural aspects of all these methods, and addresses concerns about the use of technology, may help to bridge the gap between innovation and consumer acceptance, contributing to the delicate balance between tradition and innovation in agricultural strategies. At the same time, however, the study’s exploratory nature may limit the generalizability of the results. Future research could broaden the participant sample and explore additional psychological factors shaping attitudes toward novel agricultural techniques.