New research has suggested that high numbers of German and French consumers are comfortable with the concept of cell-based, or cultivated meat.

The organisation ProVeg International, together with the University of Bath (UK), the Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté (France), and Ipsos (Germany), collaborated on the research, which also looked into meat-reduction trends.

It showed the majority of German respondents (58%) and almost half of French respondents (44%) stated they would be willing to try cultured meat.

Researchers also found that the majority of Germans are limiting their consumption of meat.

They surveyed 1,000 people in each country, asking them a series of questions about their current and intended dietary habits, as well as their thoughts on cultured meat – meat produced in a lab from cells without raising and slaughtering animals. 

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By GlobalData

Their analysis found that just 45% of German respondents were identified as full meat-eaters, with a further 31% now actively following flexitarian or reduced-meat diets. Meat consumption was more common in France, where 69% were identified as full meat-eaters, with 26% following a flexitarian diet. 

Although the majority of consumers in France and Germany had still not heard of cultured meat, 44% of French respondents and 58% of Germans surveyed said that they would be willing to try it, with 37% of French consumers and 56% of Germans willing to buy it themselves. 

The research highlights Germany as one of the most vegetarian nations in Europe, noting that per-capita meat consumption has been trending down for several decades. Now evidence suggests German consumers who are not deliberately limiting their meat consumption are in the minority.

These patterns are mirrored in France, where almost half of meat-eaters intend to reduce their consumption of animal-based products in the future, although attitudes in the population as a whole are harder to shift, researchers suggest.

Christopher Bryant from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, said: “Now we are approaching a tipping point where the majority of people are deciding that, primarily for ethical and environmental reasons, we need to move away from eating animals. As eating animals becomes less normal, we will likely see a rise in demand for alternatives such as plant-based and cultured meat.”

The researchers found some evidence that pro-cultured-meat messages which focus on antibiotic resistance and food safety were more persuasive than those that focused on animal welfare or the environment. Consumers also indicated that they would be more likely to consume cultured meat that is not genetically modified. 

Study author Nathalie Rolland added: “We can expect to see an increase in interest in novel proteins, including cultured meat. We now know that increased familiarity with the concept of cultured meat tends to make people more comfortable with the idea of eating it. Also, it’s worth pointing out that this data was collected before the outbreak of Covid-19, a zoonotic disease which has caused many people to re-examine the role of animals in our food system.”