Knowledge for better food systems

Providing information increases acceptance of cultured meat

According to this paper, participants in a survey of 193 Dutch citizens were more likely to view cultured meat favourably after they were given information about its purported benefits, compared to before they were given information. Most participants were willing to pay a premium of 37%, on average, for cultured meat over conventional meat.

All study participants tried two pieces of conventional hamburger. However, one of these pieces was labelled as “cultured” hamburger. On average, participants liked the taste of the so-called “cultured” hamburger better than the piece labelled as conventional despite both pieces in fact being the same type of meat. On average, the participants rated the two types of meat similarly on appearance, colour, smell, tenderness, juiciness and aftertaste. The paper speculates that participants may have expected the “cultured” hamburger to taste worse, and, being pleasantly surprised by its taste, rated it as better tasting than the identical hamburger labelled as conventional. The paper also notes that the “cultured” hamburger was presented in smaller portions than the conventional hamburger, for unspecified experimental reasons, which might have caused people to view the “cultured” sample as scarce and of higher value.

 

Abstract

Cultured meat, in particular beef, is an emerging food technology potentially challenged by issues of consumer acceptance. To understand drivers of consumer acceptance as well as sensory perception of cultured meat, we investigated the effect of information content on participants’ acceptance of cultured meat in a tasting context. Hundred ninety-three citizens from the Netherlands participated, divided across three age and sex-matched groups which each received information on either societal benefits, personal benefits or information on the quality and taste of cultured meat. They filled out a questionnaire and tasted two pieces of hamburger, labeled ‘conventional’ or ‘cultured’, although both pieces were in fact conventional. Sensory analysis of both hamburgers was performed. We observed that provision of information and the tasting experience increased acceptance of cultured meat and that information on personal benefits of cultured meat increased acceptance more than information on quality and taste but not than societal benefits of cultured meat. Previous awareness of cultured meat was the best predictor of its acceptance. In contrast to previous studies, sex and social economic status were not associated with different acceptance rates. Surprisingly, 58% of the respondents were willing to pay a premium for cultured meat of, on average, 37% above the price of regular meat. All participants tasted the ‘cultured’ hamburger and evaluated its taste to be better than the conventional one in spite of the absence of an objective difference. This is the first acceptance study of cultured meat where participants were offered to eat and evaluate meat that was labeled ‘cultured’. We conclude that having positive information importantly improves acceptance and willingness to taste and that the specific content of the information is of subordinate importance. Awareness of cultured meat is the best predictor of acceptance.

 

Reference

Rolland, N.C., Markus, C.R. and Post, M.J., 2020. The effect of information content on acceptance of cultured meat in a tasting context. Plos one, 15(4), p.e0231176.

Read the full paper here. See also the Foodsource resource What are the influences on our food choices?

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