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A new Australian study has found that Generation Z – the younger generation born between 1995 and 2015 – are not ready to accept cultivated meat, but are greatly concerned about environmental and animal welfare issues. Despite their skepticism about trying cell-based meats, however, nearly half of the cohort surveyed recognised its potential as an alternative protein source that could help the world transition into a more sustainable food system.
Conducted by the University of Sydney and Curtin University, the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Nutrition, involved an online survey with 227 randomly selected Australia-based respondents who are in the Gen Z demographic. They were asked several questions about how they felt about cultured meat made by cultivating animal cells without the need for slaughter, and other alternative proteins such as plant-based and insect protein.
According to the study, a majority of the Gen Z cohort – 72% – were not yet ready to accept cultured meat. However, despite having reservations about trying cultivated meats, 41% believed that it does represent a viable nutrient source and a solution for a more sustainable and ethical food system. Specifically, 59% of respondents were worried about the environmental impacts of traditional animal agriculture.
“Our research has found that Generation Z – those aged between 18 and 25 – are concerned about the environment and animal welfare, yet most are not ready to accept cultured meat,” explained Dr. Diana Bogueva from the University of Sydney, who led the research.
In-vitro meat and other alternatives are important as they can help to reduce greenhouse emissions and lead to better animal welfare condition. However, if cultured meat is to replace livestock-based proteins, it will have to emotionally and intellectually appeal to the Gen Z consumers.Dr. Diana Bogueva, lead author of the study
Of the reasons cited for their hesitancy regarding cultivated meat, the research showed that Gen Zs were held back by the anticipated taste, “disgust”, health and safety concerns and uncertainty over whether it did in fact present a more sustainable protein option.
Over a third of those who said that they would reject cultivated meat are instead open and willing to adopt plant-based meat alternatives, which they believe are “normal” and “sounded more natural”.
It may be through its physical appearance, but what seems to be more important is transparency around its environmental and other benefits.Dr. Diana Bogueva, lead author of the study
The researchers believe that these findings provide insights for the cultivated protein sector regarding how to communicate, brand and increase the appeal of their future products to Gen Zs, which represents an increasingly important demographic.
“In-vitro meat and other alternatives are important as they can help to reduce greenhouse emissions and lead to better animal welfare conditions,” said Bogueva. “However, if cultured meat is to replace livestock-based proteins, it will have to emotionally and intellectually appeal to the Gen Z consumers.”
“It may be through its physical appearance, but what seems to be more important is transparency around its environmental and other benefits,” she added.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.