A scientist works in a lab at the company Just, which is producing a lab-grown chicken nugget product. Photo courtesy of Just
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- All kinds of stakeholders, from environmental activists to venture capitalists, are counting on the growth of the cultured meat market. But new research suggests one of the most important consumer cohorts, Generation Z, isn't ready to eat meat grown from cells in a lab.
The 2 billion people born between 1995 and 2005 are members of Generation Z, and if businesses are to survive longterm, they must market and sell to them.
For cultured meat companies marketers, members of Generation Z should be an easy sell. New survey results out of Australia suggest young consumers are especially concerned about climate change, sustainability and animal welfare.
"Yet most are not ready to accept cultured meat," Diana Bogueva, researcher at the University of Sydney, said in a news release.
Poll results of Generation Z members in Australia showed 72 percent of respondents aren't interested in eating meat grown in a lab.
Many of those who responded to the online survey described cultured meat as unappetizing. Others said eating cultured meat conflicts with perceptions of gender and national identity.
Researchers detailed their poll results this week in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
"Gen Z value Australia's reputation as a supplier of quality livestock and meat, and many view traditional meat eating as being closely tied to concepts of masculinity and Australian cultural identity," Bogueva said.
Some respondents voiced concerns about the sustainability of cultured meat, claiming that the products could put additional pressures on natural resources.
"This Generation has vast information at its fingertips but is still concerned that they will be left with the legacy of exploitative capitalism that benefits only a few at the expense of many," Bogueva said. "They have witnessed such behavior resulting in climate change and are now afraid that a similar scenario may develop in relation to food, particularly as investors are pursuing broader adoption of cultured meat."
Supporters of cultured meat -- 28 percent of poll participants -- described lab-grown meat products as an innovative solution to the commercial meat industry's sustainability problem.
While Generation Z may be of particular importance to burgeoning cultured meat businesses, they're attitudes toward cultured meat are similar to those of older generations.
When researchers at Michigan State University asked 2,100 Americans what they thought about cultured meat in 2018, they found just one-third of respondents said they were likely to buy lab-grown meat. However, the Michigan State poll found younger Americans were more open to eating lab-grown meat than older Americans.
However, cultured meat companies may be able to find friendlier consumer bases outside of North America and Australia. According to polling conducted last year, eaters in China and India are much more open to buying and consuming lab-grown meat products.