UK consumers will eat lab-grown meat, insects - study finds

Knowing alternative proteins are safe is the top factor in encouraging consumers to try them
calendar icon 23 January 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

A UK survey seeking the public perception of alternative proteins has revealed that one third (34%) of British consumers would try cultured meat, and a quarter (26%) would try edible insects. The survey also found that 6 in 10 are willing to try plant-based products.

Commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in December 2021, the aim of the survey was to understand consumer awareness and perceptions of alternative and novel sources of protein. 

Of the respondents, 90% said they have heard of plant-based proteins. A further 80% said they'd heard of edible insects, and 78% had heard of lab-grown meat.

The study also highlights how important food safety is to consumers. According to the results, 44%  said they were willing to try new options because they know they're safe to eat, while 44% said they believe these new options are healthy. A further 39% cited environmental sustainability as a reason to try insects or lab-grown meat. The biggest barrier to trying plant-based proteins was preference for traditional meats (36%).

Interestingly, two in five respondents said nothing could encourage them to try lab-grown meat, while 27% said they could be persuaded if they knew if was safe. A further 23% said they'd try it if they could trust that it was properly regulated. 

The majority of respondents (67%) said nothing could make them try edible insects. One in eight (13%) could be persuaded if they knew it was safe to eat, and 11% if they looked appetising.

The FSA said it will look further into how businesses can be supported in entering this new market. 

“Our priority is to protect consumer interests by ensuring food is safe and what it says it is through a robust scientific process," said professor Robin May, FSA Chief Scientific Adviser. "We recognise 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 continued. “Consequently, we are working closely with businesses and trade bodies to ensure they make effective use of the FSA's existing regulatory framework so that consumers can benefit from innovative food products whilst still having full confidence in their safety.”

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