Commissioned by Ingredient Communications, the survey revealed that 29% out of the 1000 respondents said they would eat non-animal cell cultivated meat alternative.
Vegans appeared to be the consumer segment most likely to try it with 60% stating they would be willing to do so.
This figure trumps vegetarians (23%) pescatarians (21%) and meat eaters (28%) – the largest group in the survey (888 of 1,000).
“It’s easy to see why so many consumers welcome the prospect of lab-grown meat,” said Richard Clarke, founder & managing director of Ingredient Communications.
“People enjoy eating meat, but often feel guilty about related issues such as animal welfare and the impact of farming on the environment. Cultured meat addresses those concerns, which is a compelling benefit.”
Lab meat: pros and cons
Lab-grown meat has been touted as a viable alternative to conventionally-produced meat and associated sustainability concerns.
Reservations stem from taste and an overall lack of appeal, especially meats viewed as healthy, like fish and chicken.
The ‘unnatural’ view of cultivating meat is also a factor cited by sceptics as is the likely impact on farmers and their livestock.
However, the survey—conducted online by consumers in the UK and USA—the mood appears to be changing with the prospect of replacing intensive farm animal production particularly striking the right chord amongst vegan participants.
“Particularly interesting was the fact that vegans were by some distance more likely to eat cultured meat than any other group,” Clarke added.
“This could be because vegans, perhaps more than any other group, are always on the look-out for new, ethical sources of protein. This offers interesting potential for companies operating in the embryonic cultured meat industry.”
With the US especially making progress in this sector, companies here and in Europe will still have to contend with a lengthy regulatory approval process before company products are commercially available.
European firms need to apply for EU novel food status, updated to include cultured meat referenced in new, streamlined regulation, which came into force on 1 January 2018.
The door was left open as a recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statement said “Given information we have at the time, it seems reasonable to think that cultured meat, if manufactured in accordance with appropriate safety standards and all relevant regulations, could be consumed safely."
Notable players in the cultured meat industry include Mosa Meat in the Netherlands, Future Meat Technologies and SuperMeat in Israel, Memphis Meats, Finless Foods and Hampton Creek in the US and Integriculture in Japan.
In 2017, Hampton Creek, makers of vegan mayonnaise, made plans to work in the clean meat space revealing details of a product that was “likely [to be] in the avian family” along with long-term plans to construct a “multi-species, multi-product platform spanning the entire range of meat and seafood”.
“The results of this survey indicate that there is a huge difference between how US and UK consumers perceive cultured meat,” said Neil Cary, managing director of Surveygoo.
“It shows how countries which, on the surface, appear to share many similar values, may in fact diverge quite widely on certain issues. It’s very early days for cultured meat and our findings highlight the value of asking consumers how they feel about cutting-edge developments such as these.”