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41 percent of Brits think we’ll be eating lab-grown meat and fish within a decade, according to polling undertaken in February this year.
Lab – also known as clean, cultured or bio – meat, is built using animal cells. Foetal blood plasma harvested from unborn calves is often used – though some brands including tech startup JUST say they have developed technology to avoid this.
The product is therefore not vegan, though some vegans choose to support the concept, as it has potential to reduce the number of animals slaughtered for food.
It is also a more environmentally-friendly option than traditional livestock farming, with some environmentalists saying that a switch from traditional meat could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 96 percent.
In addition, meat grown in sterile lab conditions does not require massive amounts of antibiotics – which are used at scale in intensive farms.
According to the research by the human experience company Starcom, which quizzed 2,000 people, shortages of meat and fish is the top reason why people say they would eat lab-grown produce, followed by environmental and sustainability concerns.
Pescetarians and vegetarians are the most confident with the speed of adoption with 59 percent and 51 percent respectively believing it’ll be on our plates within 10 years.
Currently 42 percent of people would eat lab-grown meat or fish in a restaurant, which drops slightly when it comes to fast food restaurants (37 percent).
The research was part of Starcom’s ongoing ‘Future of…’ thought-leadership series, which is based on ‘rich insight into consumer trends and how emerging behaviours will impact brands and society as a whole’.
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Other reports suggest people may be tucking into lab-grown meat well before 2028 – with food tech company JUST CEO Josh Tetrick saying that lab grown meats – such as chicken, sausage, and foie gras – could be ready for consumption within months, and available in restaurants later this year.
However, he and other pioneers in the clean meat field have suggested that regulatory issues could cause delay.
Professor Mark Post of lab meat company Mosa Meats (which has pledged to have the product in restaurants by next year) suspects it may be three years before lab-grown meat hits shelves for the common consumer to bring home.
Jodie Stranger, Starcom UK Group chief executive and president of global network clients, EMEA, said: “The research is a fascinating look into the motivations and perceptions of consumers.
“For a food source that only really started proper development in the early noughties to have such acceptance already is amazing.
“It appears that this willingness to try something very new, and out of the norm, comes from a desire to help the planet and reduce the strains of meat production.”
She added: “Although greater education about the benefits of lab-grown produce is necessary, Brits are responsive. Nothing can undermine the need for a great tasting and good quality meal.
“However, with pressures on the industry to source the sheer quantity needed to feed our appetites and for consumers to pay for it, we’re going to see a lot more on interest in this area.
“Brands that create a great product and manage to effectively educate the market will reap the rewards.”