Majority of consumers willing to sink their teeth into 'alternative' meat

A lab-grown meat burger made from cultured beef. Photo: David Parry/PA
A lab-grown meat burger made from cultured beef. Photo: David Parry/PA
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The growing popularity of alternative meat is emerging as a real threat to traditional farming, a new survey has revealed.

And a clear urban/rural divide is evident in Irish consumers' views on the emerging cultured meat technology.

Some 62pc of urban consumers say they are willing to try cultured meat products compared to just 46pc of rural consumers.

Cultured meat is meat which is produced outside of the animal of choice through the culturing of animal stem cells.

Over 47pc of urban consumers stated they were concerned about the environmental effects of current meat production methods compared to just over 36pc of rural respondents.

And 47pc of urban consumers also believe that cultured meat would be more ethical than conventional meat while only 33pc of rural consumers agreed.

In total, 63pc of Irish men stated they would be willing to try cultured meat compared to just 46pc of women.

The survey by researchers in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) also found younger age categories were more willing to try cultured meat.

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Investment and research into alternative meat proteins have soared in recent years as alternative meat producers are targeting consumers in the millennial and Generation X categories.

The meat substitute market could reap $5.2bn in sales by 2020, according to Oregon-based Allied Market Research (AMR), an 8.4pc rise from 2015. American companies such as Beyond Meat and MorningStar Farms, owned by the world's largest cereal maker, Kellogg, are leading the charge.

'Flexitarians'

Last year, ABP launched a vegan burger in response to not just vegetarian diets, but to so-called 'flexitarian' habits whereby an increasing number of people are cutting out meat for a few days a week.

The company's seasoned pea and soy protein patties are marketed under the Equals label.

Despite this, DIT lecturer Dr Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire, who led the research, noted that consumers believed that cultured meat would be an inferior product to conventional meat and would expect to pay less money for it.

Nine in 10 of the survey's respondents felt that cultured meat would not be able to produce the same flavour and texture as conventional meat.

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