A win for lab-grown meat sector as survey finds UK consumers open to taking a bite

UK – Lab-grown meat industry players have a reason to smile as new research by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has found that a third of consumers in the UK are open to trying out their products. 

The survey conducted by Ipson MORI on behalf of FSA also found that six in 10 members of the public were willing to try plant-based products. 

Insect proteins were however found to be the most unappealing to consumers with only a quarter of the population willing to give the novel food a try.  

Professor Robin May, FSA chief scientific adviser, recognized the potential of alternative proteins for improving dietary health and as part of a sustainable food system.  

“This important survey highlights that, while many consumers are considering trying alternative proteins, they will quite rightly only do so if they are confident that these products are safe and properly regulated,” he added. 

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Of all the three alternative proteins currently in the market, plant-based proteins were the most visible with up to 90 percent of respondents saying they had heard of it.  

 Of the respondents unwilling to try any alternative proteins, 67% said nothing could make them try edible insects, while one in eight (13%) reported they could be persuaded if they knew they were safe to eat – 11% said they’d consider it if they looked appetizing. 

When it comes to safety, over three quarters (77%) of respondents perceived plant-based proteins as being safe to eat compared to half (50%) for edible insects and three in 10 (30%) for lab-grown meat. 

The report comes as investments in cultured meat – or lab-grown meat-topped $350m (£257m) in 2020, according to Good Food Institute’s (GFI’s) State of the Industry report on Cultivated Meat. 

Towards the end of 2020, Future Meat Technologies raised US$347 million in a Series B funding round co-led by ADM Ventures with participation from the Menora Mivtachim pension and insurance fund, and S2G Ventures. 

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The food start-up plans to use funds from the round to fuel its plans to open a US plant next year and drive down the cost of cultivated meat below its current price of $7.70 per lb. 

Future meat plans to break ground on the facility in early 2022 and can be fully operational in 18 to 24 months, pending regulatory approval from the FDA for the production and commercial sale of cultivated meat. 

As more companies dive into the alternative proteins arena, assurances of the safety of these types of protein would encourage more consumers to try them, in the same way they have received assurances of the safety of plant-based proteins. 

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