Exploring consumers’ knowledge and perceptions of unconventional food plants: case study of addition of Pereskia aculeata Miller to ice cream

Abstract Unconventional food plants (UFPs) are by definition little known and infrequently consumed by population, although are recognized as having high nutritional value and economic potential. The objective was to assess the knowledge about UFPs by the population in the southwestern region of the state of Paraná, Brazil; and more particularly to evaluate the holistic perception of an ice cream prepared with the UFP ora-pro-nóbis, a plant that is gaining attention in recent years We applied a questionnaire to assess knowledge of several UFPs; check-all-that-apply questions to evaluate the knowledge, habits and perceptions regarding UFPs; and word association (WA) and acceptance tests for holistic and hedonic evaluation of the ice cream. The results revealed that the best known UFP species were taro and roselle, followed by ora-pro-nóbis and lamb’s ear. They also revealed that among participants, the majority (63%) had heard of UFPs, but only 19.4% stated they had the custom of eating these plants. The respondents also indicated interest in buying UFPs, but stated it was not easy to find them for sale. In the WA test, ice cream was described mainly in the categories tasty, innovation, sweet taste, plant flavor, smooth and creamy, and the acceptance index was 74%.