Are You Sceptical About Cultivated Meat? A New Study Explains The Reason Why
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While it’s a rapidly growing industry, cultivated meat is still a new concept to people, with regulators in only two countries across the world approving its sale so far. A new study has analysed the impact of food technology neophobia – a fear of the new – and different images on consumer attitudes towards cultivated meat.
The research found that food technology neophobia strongly impacts consumer acceptance of cultured meat. It has negative effects on their behavioural intentions – but even then, participants indicated they are likely to embrace cultivated meat. Those who had higher levels of neophobia were less likely to regularly buy and eat it, but for people with a higher level of acceptance, neophobia wasn’t as significant in their potential to consume cultivated meat as it is in their behavioural intentions.
Published in the Food Quality and Practice journal, the study surveyed 727 potential cultivated meat customers in Germany, examining their willingness to try cultured meat, regularly purchase it, eat it instead of conventional meat, and pay more for it. It combined information about these alternatives with images centring on the tech surrounding them (like in a lab setting), those that focused on them in a more familiar context (where they look like conventional meat), as well as without any photos.
Receiving detailed information about the benefits of cultured meat or including pictures alongside this information proved to have no significant influence on people’s intentions to consume or regularly buy cell-based alternatives. Participants’ attitudes similarly did not change based on whether the information focused on the benefits of cultivated meat or remained neutral.
People were also tested on their preference for deliberative or intuitive thinking. The study found that those who favoured intuitive thinking are more likely to accept cultivated meat, while those preferring deliberative thinking are more likely to reject it.
Additionally, the researchers found that frequent meat eaters and those who regularly eat meat substitutes like tofu are the two groups most likely to eat cultivated alternatives, showcasing enthusiasm for the relatively new tech. The study also proposed further analysis of the effect of information about the risks of cultivated meat on consumer perceptions.
Research important to highlight consumer acceptance of cultured meat
The analysis adds to a body of research exploring consumer perceptions about cell-cultured meat. One study conducted last year found a correlation between people’s wellbeing and willingness to try cultivated meat in Singapore, while earlier research in the country showed 78% of its residents are willing to try it.
According to industry think tank the Good Food Institute, total investment in cultivated meat startups reached $2.78B last year, with more than 150 companies working in this sector and governments across the globe pouring funds into cell-based meat research. This is a marker of increased acceptance, and one study has highlighted consumer belief that cultured protein will make up 40% of their meat intake in the future. This is in line with industry sentiment, too, as 86% of chefs say they want to serve cultivated meat to their customers.
As more countries look to approve the sale of cultivated meat – and as it becomes more widely available – studies like these provide a key insight into what consumers think and want, and how they’ll perceive such alt-proteins.