Price will dictate adoption of cultured meat in Southern Europe

21 May 2021

Over half of consumers in Greece, Croatia and Spain are willing to purchase cultured meat if the price was lower than conventional equivalents, according to a new study from the University of Copenhagen. This finding led researchers to conclude that affordable prices will be a primary factor determining whether cultured meat catches on in Southern Europe.

While researchers showed that price will influence consumer interest in cultured products, the study also revealed that the concept of lab-grown protein was not familiar to the majority of those surveyed. In total, 47% of the participants had not heard of the term “cultured meat” before, but non-meat eaters were the most aware of the term. Although less than half of the 2007 participants were aware of the existence of lab-grown meat, the majority of study participants recognized its associations with animal and environmental welfare with 60% thinking that cultured meat is kind to animals and 45% that it is healthy and environmentally friendly.

Price will dictate adoption of cultured meat in Southern Europe

Cultured meat is still animal protein, but unlike traditional animal husbandry that uses one-third of the Earth’s surface in its production, this method grows animal cells taken from a live animal in a lab. With the FAO stating that up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions are connected to agricultural practices, even when fossil fuel inputs are included, many scientists have looked at cultured meat as a potential solution to the environmental impact of feeding the 7.6 billion people on the planet.

But not all consumers agree that lab-grown meat is the way forward. In the study, 57% said that cultured meat is unnatural and 21% claimed that the product was disgusting.

Still, the push to expand the prevalence of cultured meat within the market is marching forward. Although cultured meats are not yet available in the EU market, there are a number of companies that are aiming at introducing these options by 2023. Researchers specifically chose to gauge the acceptance of this concept by Mediterranean countries since their populations traditionally eat a diet that is not centered around meat.

However, the interest in cultured meat that the researchers found from these Mediterranean populations was similar to that found in countries with a larger number of carnivores. In the University of Copenhagen study, 47% of respondents said they would try cultured meat. In other studies cited by Danish researchers, 57% of Germans, 54% of Italians and 65.3% of Americans would try lab-grown meat.

While there is still room to increase levels of awareness for residents of Greece, Croatia and Spain, if prices descend to affordable levels that can attract consumers at a discount, lab-grown meat has a chance of conquering the dinner plates of these southern European countries.

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