How can producers make cultured meat marketable?

Dive Brief:

  • Clean meat can now be created in a laboratory, but the next step is to make these products more marketable and cost competitive with conventionally-produced meat, according to the Good Food Institute (GFI).
  • While production costs have already dropped significantly, GFI recommends manufacturers look for opportunities to cut costs at every stage of production and level of the supply chain.
  • Recommendations include establishing "immortal" cell lines that clean meat producers can share as a consistent, indefinitely reproductive source of meat; animal-free media, or the nutrients cells need to replicate; and scaffolding, which offers manufacturers the ideal ratio of cell types and the recognizable shape of conventionally produced meat. Manufacturers should also develop new equipment to better produce bioreactors, which create the media needed to produce clean meat.

Dive Insight:

These technical changes may indeed make clean meat, also known as cultured meat, more marketable from a financial or operational standpoint. But one important question remains: how exactly will clean meat producers attract consumers, particularly those who are on the fence about or against lab-grown meat?

At this point, clean meat faces challenges similar to insect-based proteins. Insects are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients, but they bear an "ick" factor that will cause many consumers to pass on these products. Because producers create clean meat using a lab culture, consumers may assign a similar "ick" factor to clean meat products.

GFI concludes its clean meat report by stating the challenges facing this segment "can be overcome with continued work by biologists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors." While that may be true, another key group and their perspective will need to enter the equation: marketers.

If brands cannot find the best way to portray clean meat's benefits to consumers, this segment may never become popular enough to compete with conventionally-produced meat products. The key will likely be focusing on the environmental benefits clean meat provides while avoiding any focus on the fact that brands grow this type of meat in a lab rather than on a farm.

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Filed Under: Manufacturing Meat / Protein Sustainability
Top image credit: Jon Sullivan