- Four in 10 consumers in the US and the UK are highly likely to try cultivated meat, according to a study conducted North Mountain Consulting Group and commissioned by Aleph Farms, a developer of cell-based meat. The survey of 2,018 U.S. and 2,034 UK consumers, which was published in Foods journal, found that another 40% would consider trying it while 20% were not open to eating it at all.
- Younger consumers were most open to eating cultivated meat, with 49% of Gen Z and 45% of millennials highly likely to try it. Only 33% of baby boomers were highly likely to eat cultivated meat, and this group also had the highest percentage unwilling to try it at 28%.
- Cultivated meat is emerging as a potential option for consumers interested in cutting down their conventional meat consumption without having to compromise on flavor and mouthfeel, but education is needed to boost wider acceptance.
The study commissioned by Aleph Farms tracks with other recent consumer surveys around cultivated meat. Earlier this year, Eat Just commissioned a study that found seven out of 10 U.S. consumers are open to substituting cell-based chicken for the animal-based meat. Another study from 2019, reported in Frontiers in Nutrition, concluded that nearly 65% of Americans would probably or definitely try cultivated meat.
As the Aleph Farms study pointed out, however, the majority of consumers are unfamiliar with cultivated meat. Keri Szejda, founder and principal research scientist for North Mountain Consulting Group, noted "an increase in support for the technology once consumers had access to additional information, underscoring the importance of effective science communication for consumer adoption."
A number of efforts have developed to figure out the best educational platform and branding for cultivated meat. In 2019, the Good Food Institute conducted research concluding that the name “cultivated meat” was the most appropriate to describe meat created in a lab. Other names that have been floated around for the product include cell-based meat and lab-grown meat.
Currently, cultivated meat is not approved for human food consumption in the U.S. Once it receives regulatory approval here and consumers have the option to purchase cultivated meat at restaurants or the supermarket, it may pique their interest. Eat Just secured the first regulatory approval for its cultivated chicken in Singapore, the first country to give its blessing to cultivated meat. Its product also debuted at a restaurant in the country in December.
The increased support from younger generations like Gen Z and millennials could foreshadow a promising future for cultivated meat, as well. Younger generations are already proving that they have different purchasing and dietary patterns compared to older generations and are generally more concerned about things like sustainability and animal welfare. They also want healthier food with fewer additives and are more likely to be vegetarians.
Aleph Farms has been one of the most active startups in the cultivated meat segment. It announced what it described as the world’s first cultivated ribeye steak in February 2021. It used cell cultivation and 3D bioprinting to construct the steak. In 2018, it also claimed to create the world’s first cell-grown minute steak. It has attracted funding from some big-name players including Cargill.
However, Aleph Farms faces growing competition for the attention of consumers willing to try cell-based meat. Future Meat Technologies is on track to produce a cultivated chicken breast that would retail for as low as $7.50. BlueNalu is developing cultivated seafood while Memphis Meats, which recently rebranded to Upside Foods, is hoping to have cultivated chicken products approved and on the market by the end of this year.