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Omnivores, flexitarians, vegetarians… Who is more likely to consume cultivated meat?

The new trends observed in consumers go in the direction of a greater concern for environmental sustainability and animal welfare. Most of the the world’s population continues to eat meat, although the number of people who reduce or eliminate their consumption continues to grow gradually, especially among the younger generations.

Currently, it is estimated that between 2 and 7% of the population eats a vegetarian, pescatarian (they do eat fish) or vegan diet. Likewise, there is also a growing trend among people who have reduced their consumption of meat, although they eat it from time to time: the flexitarians, who could reach 16% of the population and continue to add followers. This population group may be especially interested in alternative proteins and cultivated meat.

Rise of flexitarianism

This modality bases the diet on a main consumption of plant based products, but occasionally including animal protein foods. Health care, respect for the environment and awareness of animal welfare are the main motivations that lead a consumer to adopt this dietary pattern.

This group of people is usually predominantly vegetarian, although they are flexible when it comes to “skipping the rules”, for example if they eat outside their home or share food with another people, or simply if they feel like eating some meat or fish sporadically. This more flexible spirit is what encourages many people, who, although they were concerned about environmental issues or animal welfare, did not take the step of totally dispensing with the consumption of meat products.

This group has also shown itself willing to include cultivated meat in its shopping basket when possible, according to a study by the Lantern consultancy. In fact, the study indicates that 56% of veggie consumers (including vegetarians and vegans) are in favor of purchasing this type of meat food, which allows the consumption of meat without animal sacrifice. This percentage increases to 66% when we talk about younger people (18 to 24 years old), also including omnivores in this age group.

An option for everyone

Cultivated meat is presented as a transversal option, capable of responding to the concerns of almost all consumers, both those who do not give up meat and want to enjoy its nutritional properties, its flavor and its gastronomic and dietary culture or those attracted by the novelty, as well as people who choose what they eat based on other ethical variables and personal reasons.

A study by The Good Food Institute Europe found that more than half of European consumers (a survey carried out in 2022 in Spain, France, Germany and Italy) claim to have reduced their consumption of conventional meat, and more than half of consumers they were willing to buy cultivated meat. On the other hand, in the FMI Power of Meat 2022 report, 29% of surveyed carnivore consumers responded that they were willing to try cultivated meat and 31% were neutral.

It should be noted that these studies are being carried out in a phase prior to the arrival of cultivated meat on the markets and that they are marked by a significant lack of knowledge on the part of the consumer of what cultivated meat is. It is foreseeable that, as products reach the market and more consumers become familiar with the concept and experience of eating cultivated meat, the percentage of people who want to try it will increase considerably.

In any case, the various studies carried out in various countries seem to agree that it will be the youngest people, as in many other sectors, who are more willing to incorporate the consumption of meat grown in early stages and that this is more popular among omnivores. and flexitarians, although the ethical and environmental motivations associated with cultured meat could also move vegetarians, despite their initial emotional rejection of meat in general.