Biotech Updates

UK Consumers Weigh Appeal of Cultured and Plant-based Meat

March 1, 2023

A study done in the United Kingdom compared the reactions of 200 consumers to conventional meat, cultured meat, and plant-based meat alternatives in terms of taste, pleasantness, and other appeal-related factors. Interestingly, results suggested that there is an opportunity to promote acceptance of alternatives to conventional meat products based on the former's perceived healthiness despite its reduced expected taste pleasantness and other negative attributes.

The participants were volunteer community members and students at the University of Bristol who participated in an online survey that showed labeled pictures of conventional and non-conventional meat products in the forms of beef burgers, chicken nuggets, cheese sandwiches, ice cream, blueberry muffins, and chocolate chip cookie. These were primarily rated in terms of expected taste pleasantness, fullness, satisfaction, healthiness, willingness to pay, and disgust.

The key findings of the study noted that alternatives to conventional meat products are partly acceptable to both meat and non-meat eaters. What affects the appeal of plant-based meat alternatives for meat-eaters are their expectations of poorer taste and reduced fillingness despite being perceived as a healthier option to conventional meat. Cultured meat products were rated as equally healthy or more healthy by meat eaters, but were found to be more disgusting than conventional meat. This may be due to the consumers' unfamiliarity with the product, which then creates a perception of increased risk. However, labeling cultured meat as “slaughter-free” can act as a prime for animal welfare and increase its appeal for non-meat eaters.

The results may be applicable to promotion campaigns for change in diet as higher perceptions of healthiness can be used to promote plant-based meat alternatives to conventional meat while at least partly balancing reduced taste pleasantness and fillingness and, for cultured products, a high level of repulsion.

More details can be found in the open-access article published by Appetite.

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