A survey of consumer perceptions of alternative, or novel, sources of protein conducted by Ipsos MORI for the FSA also found that six in 10 members of the public were willing to try plant-based products
Investment in cultured meat – or lab-grown meat – topped $350m (£257m) last year, with 70 start-ups and more than 40 primary life science companies diving into the arena, according to Good Food Institute's (GFI's) 2020 State of the Industry report on Cultivated Meat.
Consumer concerns over safety
Top of the list of consumers’ concerns surrounding alternative proteins such as lab-grown meats and insects was food safety. Assurances of the safety of these types of protein would encourage more consumers to try them, in the same way they have received assurances of the safety of plant-based proteins.
Other highlights included:
- Up to 90% of respondents reported they had heard of plant-based proteins, 80% had heard of edible insects and 78% had heard of lab grown meat.
- Over three quarters (77%) of respondents perceived plant-based proteins as being safe to eat compared to half (50%) for edible insects and three in 10 (30%) for lab grown meat.
- Over three quarters (77%) of respondents perceived plant-based proteins as being safe to eat compared to half (50%) for edible insects and 3 in 10 (30%) for lab grown meat.
No interest in insects
Of the respondents unwilling to try any alternative proteins, 67% said nothing could make them try edible insects, while one in eight (13%) reported they could be persuaded if they knew they were safe to eat – 11% said they’d consider it if they looked appetizing.
Professor Robin May, FSA chief scientific adviser, recognised 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 added.
“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.”