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One-third of UK consumers are open to trying cultivated meat, and 60 percent said they would try plant-based protein, according to new Food Standards Agency (FSA) data.
The new study surveyed nearly 2,000 adults ages 16-75 about their willingness to consume plant-based proteins and cultivated meat, with plant-based meat showing strong potential for mainstream acceptance.
Plant-based meat was the most well-known by survey participants; 90 percent said they’d heard of vegan protein compared to 80 percent for edible insects and 78 percent for cultivated meat.
Seventy-seven percent of participants said they believed plant-based protein was safe to eat; 50 percent said insects were safe and 30 percent cited cultivated meat as safe. Men and participants ages 25-44 were more willing to try cultivated meat.
Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said they were unwilling to try the more controversial cultivated meat, citing it as “off-putting”. Forty-two percent said nothing would motivate them to try it, but 27 percent said they would consider cultivated meat if data proved it safe.
Despite its perceived health benefits, barriers to eating plant-based included preferences for animal meat in 36 percent of participants. Forty-two percent said they were unwilling to try plant-based for any reason; 20 percent said if vegan meat “looked appetizing” they would consider trying it.
Respondents willing to try plant-based protein were motivated by safety first (44 percent), followed by health benefits (39 percent), and sustainability (36 percent). But when it came to cultivated meat, the reasons flipped, with environmental or sustainability reasons topping the list at 40 percent. That was followed by animal welfare considerations at 38 percent, and 30 percent citing health.
“This important survey highlights that, while many consumers are considering trying alternative proteins, they will quite rightly only do so if they are confident that these products are safe and properly regulated,” Professor Robin May, the FSA’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said in a statement.
“Consequently, we are working closely with businesses and trade bodies to ensure they make effective use of the FSA’s existing regulatory framework so that consumers can benefit from innovative food products whilst still having full confidence in their safety.”
Plant-based in the UK
The FSA says it plans to work with industry stakeholders to look at ways it can support brands in overcoming the barriers to entry including the FSA’s regulatory frameworks and risk analyses processes.
“Our priority is to protect consumer interests by ensuring food is safe and what it says it is through a robust scientific process,” May said. “We recognise the potential of alternative proteins for improving dietary health and as part of a sustainable food system.”
The news comes as Veganuary is underway. The month-long campaign that originated in the UK encourages people to eat vegan all of January. It has seen a record number of sign-ups for 2022; the campaign recently estimated one person is signing up every 2.5 seconds.
In the UK in particular, Veganuary presents a range of new offerings across supermarkets and restaurants. Burger King added vegan nuggets to UK stores, and both Pizza Hut and Domino’s launched new vegan pies. Staple US cream cheese brand Philadelphia debuted its first vegan cream cheese in the UK. And Starbucks, long criticized for its surcharge on dairy-free milk, announced at the end of December that it would drop the fee at its UK locations.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.