Horse steak, pork in halal meat, pieces of chicken injected with water; various scandals have given meat a bad name. Cultivated meat that has been produced from stem cells in a laboratory, so not taken from an animal, could be an alternative. But do Dutch people feel that way too?
The characteristics of cultivated meat will appeal to many: this animal- and environment-friendly product could be a solution to the world food problem. Flycatcher discovered, however, that awareness of cultivated meat was low. No less than four in every five (79%) Dutch citizens did not know what cultivated meat was prior to the presentation, a mere 14% had heard about it and also knew what it was.
Being unknown, however, did not mean unloved. Two thirds of all Dutch citizens (63%) is in favour of producing cultivated meat. "The responses are generally positive, also on social media," says Pleun Aardening, senior research at Flycatcher. More than half of the Dutch population (52%) would like to try cultivated meat. The most important reasons mentioned were: preventing of animal suffering and helping to solve the world food problem. 71% would buy the product more often if taste, structure and nutritional value were the same as in traditional meat.
What's in a name?
While the Dutch were positive about the characteristics of cultivated meat, they were negative about the name, says Aardening. "The term cultivated meat was associated with dirty, unreliable and a bad word for the product." Almost two-thirds of those interviewed (64%) would choose another name. Most frequently mentioned were 'artificial meat' and 'alternative meat'.
Dutch professor Mark Post, who developed the cultivated meat at Maastricht University, says it is "encouraging that the majority are positively inclined towards the idea." Those interviewed were negative about the term 'cultivated meat'. Dutch people who said they did not want to try cultivated meat, thought that it was genetically manipulated, unhealthy and not tasty. Post therefore warns: "We have to make it clear that this meat is not genetically manipulated."
Another remarkable outcome of the Flycatcher survey: despite the animal-friendly production, vegetarians were less likely to try the cultivated meat than non-vegetarians. In their view, it was still real meat and therefore incompatible with their principles. Professor Mark Post says that the Flycatcher survey is important. "The eventual success of cultivated meat depends on consumer acceptance, which depends very much on how it is presented."