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  • Author or Editor: Christian Fuentes x
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The aim of this paper is to empirically explore and conceptualise how marketing and markets shape the formation of edibility in the context of alternative proteins. While meat and dairy substitutes have attracted commercial and scholarly attention, promoting alternative proteins more widely has often proved to be difficult. Alternative proteins often challenge consumers’ understandings of what is safe, appropriate and enjoyable food to consume. Disgust, distrust and even opposition are common consumer reactions. Taking a constructivist market studies approach and drawing on an ethnographic study of the marketing and consumption of plant-based substitutes, we explore the work performed by marketing to overcome these problems and make plant-based substitutes edible. Making use of the concepts of market device and qualification, the analysis shows that plant-based substitutes are constructed as edible in two ways. First, through productising and the related practices of packaging, disclosing, aestheticising and branding, plant-based substitutes are qualified as safe, enjoyable and appropriate for consumption. Second, through animating plant-based substitutes are linked to established food traditions, social eating and the performance of family, thereby creating a meaningful context for this food. It is through this dual move that plant-based substitutes become edible. Our analysis shows that edibility formation went beyond merely making plant-based substitutes tasty or acceptable. The market devices studied worked to construct plant-based substitutes as a much-needed resource for everyday (plant-based) food practices.

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