Analysis of the consumer’s perception of urban food products from a soilless system in rooftop greenhouses: a case study from the Mediterranean area of Barcelona (Spain)

  • Mireia Ercilla-MontserratEmail author
  • David Sanjuan-Delmás
  • Esther Sanyé-Mengual
  • Laura Calvet-Mir
  • Karla Banderas
  • Joan Rieradevall
  • Xavier Gabarrell


Soilless crops are commonly used in rooftop agriculture (RA) because they easily adapt to building constraints. However, acceptance of the produce derived from this system may be controversial. This paper evaluates consumers’ acceptance of food from RA in Mediterranean cities, focusing on the quality of the product, production system, and consumers’ motivations. We surveyed 238 respondents on the UAB university campus as potential consumers. The survey was distributed via an Internet-link that was provided along with a sample of tomatoes from RA. The results showed that most people approved the quality of RA products and perceived them to be local and fresh (94%). The respondents exhibited acceptance of soilless-produced tomatoes and considered them to be environmentally better than conventionally produced ones (69%). Cluster analysis revealed that consumers with high income levels and a university education had a better perception of the quality and proposed a higher price for RA products, but no difference was found regarding their environmental perception of this products. Moreover, people who possessed more information about the product also had a higher perception of the quality and production system (it was perceived to be environmentally friendly) and would pay more for them. The main concerns of consumers were related to food safety and the social impact of RA. Additional research is needed to improve the sustainability of RA, and the applied measures should be communicated to potential consumers to enhance their acceptance and success.


Urban agriculture Rooftop agriculture Local food production Local consumption Food self-supply 



Institute of Environmental Science and Technology and the Catalan Institute of Paleontology


Integrated rooftop greenhouse


Rooftop agriculture


Rooftop greenhouse


Soilless culture system


Urban agriculture



The authors acknowledge financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, through the “María de Maeztu” program for Units of Excellence (MDM-2015-0552). In addition, the authors thank the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO) for the financial support of the research project “Agrourban sustainability through rooftop greenhouses: Eco-innovation on residual flows of energy, water and CO2 for food production” (CTM2013-47067-C2-1-R) and the research project “Integrated rooftop greenhouses: energy, waste and CO2 symbiosis with the building—towards foods security in a circular economy” (CTM2016-75772-C3-1-R; CTM2016-75772-C3-3-R). The authors are grateful to the Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca del Departament d’Economia i Coneixement de la Generalitat de Catalunya for the award of a research scholarship (FI-DGR 2014) to Mireia Ercilla-Montserrat.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sostenipra Research Group 3.0 2017SGR 1683, Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (MDM-2015-0552)Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Envoc Research Group, Green Chemistry and TechnologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Research Centre in Urban Environment for Agriculture and Biodiversity (ResCUE-AB), Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences (DISTAL)Alma Mater Studiorum University of BolognaBolognaItaly
  4. 4.Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3)Universitat Oberta de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering, School of EngineeringUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BarcelonaSpain

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