GERMANY, Visbek. Younger respondents and men are particularly open to meat from the laboratory, a study shows.
It once seemed like science fiction, but today it is reality - albeit with limitations: Cultivated meat, i.e. meat that grows from cells in a nutrient solution, can now be found on the menus of some restaurants in Singapore, for example.
In an incubator, cells can now develop into meat tissue at an optimum temperature and oxygen concentration, just as they would in an animal body. The fact that this is no longer a niche topic is made clear by the representative survey on Cultivated Meat conducted by the PHW Group (Wiesenhof brand) by the forsa opinion research institute. According to the survey, 60% of consumers have already heard or read that meat can now be produced without slaughtering animals. And even more than one in two (54%) would also try the meat.
"These results are a strong, positive signal for the entire Cultivated Meat research area, because they show that the concept is already known to many consumers and is being received with positive curiosity and interest," Marcus Keitzer, Chief Executive Officer Alternative Protein Sources at PHW Group, is convinced. "This makes it clear: Cultivated Meat will have a firm place in the nutritional mix of the future alongside conventional meat and plant-based alternatives." Since 2018, PHW Group has had a strategic investment in the Israeli start-up SuperMeat, which develops "meal-ready" chicken products in the laboratory.
According to the study, a good one in two people in Germany between the ages of 18 and 75 (55%) consciously abstain from meat at least sometimes - women (66%) more often than men (45%). 6% have even cut meat and fish out of their diet altogether - especially younger respondents aged 18 to 29 (13%).
Thus, alternatives to meat and fish are in demand - and in addition to plant-based substitute products, Cultivated Meat is also an option, as the study proves. This is because the concept is already firmly anchored in the public's consciousness and has a high level of awareness: 60% of respondents said they were familiar with the method of producing meat by multiplying cells in a nutrient solution. Across all age groups surveyed, at least half of respondents affirmed this, but among 18- to 29-year-olds, the level of awareness was highest at 69%.
Accordingly, differences can also be seen with regard to the different types of diet: 75% of vegans and vegetarians, 60% of flexitarians and 57% of meat eaters have already heard or read about Cultivated Meat. Overall, a good one in two (54%) would try Cultivated Meat once. Again, younger people are much more open to the innovation: Among 18- to 29-year-olds, nearly three-quarters (74%) would taste such a product, compared with about one-third of 60- to 75-year-olds (36%). Across all age groups, men would be more likely to try meat from a nutrient solution (62%) than women (45%). Flexitarians would be more likely (57%) to try Cultivated Meat than meat eaters (51%). And what's amazing is that just under half of vegans and vegetarians would try meat grown from cells in a nutrient solution (48%, with as many as 29% saying "yes, definitely").
Buying products made from cultured meat is also something that around half of those surveyed could imagine doing (47%). The general trend that interest is more pronounced among younger people also continues here: Among 18- to 29-year-olds, a good two-thirds (69%) would reach for it on the supermarket shelf, while only 28% of 60- to 75-year-olds would do so. Men also answer this question in the affirmative more often (53%) than women (42%). In addition, one in two vegans and vegetarians (57%) would buy Cultivated Meat products. So would flexitarians (51%). Meat eaters have a somewhat lower (43%) level of buying interest.
For about half of those interested in buying, Cultivated Meat may have a higher price. 47% would generally be willing to pay more for such products, 18 % even double the price. However, the willingness to pay more for a Cultivated Meat product decreases with increasing age. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, just under half (49%) are willing to pay more, while among 60- to 75-year-olds, 39% answered in the affirmative.
In addition, dietary preference influences responses: vegetarians and vegans have the highest willingness to pay at 72%, followed by flexitarians at 51%, while among meat eaters, 37% are willing to pay more for this alternative protein source.
Those who would like to try meat from the lab are primarily driven by curiosity (38%) - but also by the specific question of how it tastes (29%) and whether it is a good alternative to conventional meat (26%). Another 16% give the reason of wanting to do something against animal suffering, while 8% want to know what the consistency of Cultivated Meat is like. For 7%, the better climate balance is the decisive argument. The diet also has an influence on the reasons given: Vegetarians and vegans cited the aspects "less animal suffering" (25%) and "better climate balance" (15%) with above-average frequency compared with the total number of respondents.
Consumers who are critical of meat from a nutrient solution cite "unnatural" or "artificial" as the most common reason (39%). 17% do not see Cultivated Meat as an alternative to conventional meat and would therefore refrain from tasting it. For a comparatively small number of respondents, the reasons are an "uneasy feeling" (12%), "is disgusting, unappetizing" (8%) or that they generally avoid meat (4%).
With a total of 81% approval, a clear majority of respondents attested to Cultivated Meat as "less animal suffering," while "less land consumption" (75%) followed closely behind. The statements "is better for the climate and the environment" (60%) and "produces fewer CO2 emissions during production" (58%) were similarly frequently endorsed. They were followed by "will secure food for the world's growing population" (51%), "uses less water in production" (46%) and "secures biodiversity" (38%).
About two-thirds of respondents (69%) agreed with the statement that meat from a nutrient solution "can be fortified with vitamins and minerals." More than half (56%) believe that no zoonotic diseases are transmitted via cultured meat, and 49% consider it "free of antibiotics."
"More needs to be done in the area of consumer education to show consumers the many benefits of this alternative protein source, from resource conservation to the impact on our climate. This is where both manufacturers and politicians are called upon," says Marcus Keitzer, summarizing the results of the study.