Poll: Americans interested in cell-grown ‘meat’ as cattlemen oppose labeling
August 2, 2018
A new poll released today by the Good Food Institute, a lobbying group for the cell-grown protein or "clean meat" industry, has found that two-thirds of respondents are willing to try meat produced without slaughtering animals, a majority are willing to eat it as a replacement for conventional meat and 40 percent said they would pay a premium for "clean meat."
The survey of nearly 1,200 consumers was conducted by the nonprofit research organization Faunalytics with support from The Good Food Institute and funding from Animal Charity Evaluators.
The news release from the Good Food Institute revealed that consumers were more interested in cell-grown protein if they were provided a variety of messages about it, but conventional meat groups are likely to say adding those statements amounts to leading the respondents toward positive responses.
The news release said: "Only a quarter of consumers were initially familiar with clean meat. During the survey, each respondent was given one of four messages with different content: The first group received a message outlining how clean meat is natural; the second group read about how conventionally produced meat is unnatural; the third group received a message that naturalness isn't important; and the fourth group was shown a message similar to what companies are currently using – the benefits that clean meat offers for people, animals and the environment.
"Compared to past studies that did not provide consumers with information about the positive aspects of clean meat, each of these four messages increased consumers' interest in eating it. A previous study surveying potential consumers found that 32 percent of Americans would be willing to replace conventional meat with clean meat and that 33 percent would be willing to eat it regularly (Wilks & Phillips, 2017). With the messaging in Faunalytics' study and the use of "clean meat" instead of "in vitro meat," these numbers were substantially higher: 53 percent said they would eat it as a replacement for conventional meat, while 46 percent would eat it regularly.
"Many consumers reported being willing to pay more for clean meat than for conventional meat. For beef, 14 percent of respondents were willing to pay a premium of 25 percent or more. Twenty-five percent were willing to pay a premium up to 24.9 percent for chicken, 22 percent of respondents were willing to pay premiums of 25 percent or more, and a similar number for fish. Nineteen percent were willing to pay a premium up to 24.9 percent for each.
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"This willingness to pay more for clean meat was particularly true of people who learned about the unnatural aspects of conventional meat, such as the use of antibiotics and hormones, unsanitary farming conditions, and the unnatural rate of growth of farmed animals. Almost half of the people who read that message were willing to pay more for clean meat than conventional meat (47 percent) versus only 38 percent of those who read a more general message."
"We are happy to see research into how consumers feel about our field. Transparency and consumer education are part of our core principles. We believe that as consumers learn more about our products, they will become more excited to bring these products to the dinner table," said Steve Myrick, vice president of operations at Memphis Meats, the San Francisco company in which Cargill has joined Bill Gates and others as investors.
"Any concern about clean meat consumer acceptance is really unnecessary," said Bruce Friedrich, executive director and co-founder of The Good Food Institute, which promotes clean meat and works with clean meat companies on regulatory and scientific cooperation. "Even in this very short survey, accurately describing clean meat and talking about its benefits convinced consumers that it's a product they want to consume – in a real-world scenario, these numbers should be even better."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Cattlemen's Association is continuing its campaign to stop the use of the word "meat" with cell-based protein.
In February, USCA submitted a petition to the Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service requesting that these products not be labeled as beef or meat.
Last week, after other meat groups wrote President Donald Trump that FSIS rather than the Food and Drug Administration should be in charge of cell-grown protein, USCA said labeling is the No. 1 issue. Cell-cultured protein needs to be labeled for what it is – an alternative food product that is NOT beef or meat as consumers currently know it.
"As new technologies continue to emerge, a one-size-fits-all governmental approach will simply not work," USCA said in a news release.