One of the biggest issues facing the cultured meat industry is public perception. As with any new product, marketing plays an important role in shaping consumer views and acceptance. So just how should cultured meat be marketed? As vegan? Vegetarian? How about “animal friendly”?
Convincing people to try and even switch from conventional to cultured meat requires educating consumers about the health and environmental benefits of cultured meat, while also emphasizing that cultured meat is real meat. Proper marketing is vital for assuaging concerns about cell-based meat.
Breaking down the science behind cultured meat into easily understood terms will alleviate some of the fear of the unknown, as well as highlight the humane aspects of cultured meat when compared with factory farmed meat.
It’s important to highlight what makes meat ‘‘real’’ is its constituent substance, not its mode of production. On every physical level, successfully cultured meat will be real meat—real muscle tissue, real protein, real flesh.
Changing the perception that cultured meat is somehow different than farmed meat means explaining the differences and similarities to consumers. It also means recognizing terms like “clean meat” are likely more appealing than “lab-grown meat” or “in-vitro meat.”
Previous studies focusing on consumer acceptance found indicated “clean meat” was the most favorable when referencing cultured meat. The Good Food Institute, a non-profit dedicated to developing the roadmap for a sustainable, secure protein supply, released its findings on the matter. Among manufacturers, 45 percent use the term cultivated, 24 percent use cultured, and 19 percent use cell-based. Cultivated meat is also the most popular term among startups as well, with cultured meat a close second.
Labeling will also likely play an important role in influencing socially conscious consumers, by correctly portraying cultured meat as a more sustainable and humane option than farmed meats necessitating animal slaughter.
Just as sustainable canned tuna brands carry eco-certified labeling, “animal friendly” labeling could be applied to cultured meat products.
The understanding that would come with this type of labeling would help build trust among consumers, knowing cultured meat is produced in a more sustainable and humane way than conventional meat.
The question of whether vegetarians and vegans will buy into cultured meat remains to be seen. While many support the idea of cultured meat, there are those who remain conflicted about switching back to meat. For vegetarians and vegans, “hybrid” meats, made of plant-based and cell-cultured ingredients, may be a more enticing option.
Given that more than 95% of the human population eats meat, the number of vegetarians and vegans is comparatively small.
A recent survey regarding the consumption of cultivated meat revealed 66.4% of adults showed interest in trying cultured meat at least once; 48.9% said they would eat it regularly; and more than half — 55.2% — said they would choose cultured meats over conventional meats.
As consumers gain a better understanding of the anthropogenic impacts of factory farming on the planet, the demand for more environmentally friendly products will continue to increase, as will, we believe, the demand for “animal-friendly” cultured meat.