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Chefs give the green light to cultivated meat

2022-11-22 Ingredients Network

Tag: Cultivated Meat

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Cultivated meat, an animal-free alternative to conventional meat produced via the cultivation and formation of animal cells in a lab-based environment, could be the animal alternative dish of choice for chefs in years to come.

In future, the majority of the meat we eat will likely not come from slaughtered animals but will instead be cultivated in labs. With the consumer demand for meat alternatives growing steadily each year, by 2040 cultivated meat or plant-based alternatives which resemble traditional meat could account for as much as 60% of the meat we consume. A quarter of this will be in the form of vegan plant-based alternatives, while the remaining 35% will be cell-cultured meat, according to an AT Kearny report.

Positive sentiment towards cultivated meat is growing amongst chefs

Cultivated meat holds many advantages over conventional meat, most significantly in terms of consumer and environmental health. Despite being in its infancy, the sector has gained investment of over $450 million across more than 60 companies globally since the creation of the first cultivated meat burger just under a decade ago.

Nevertheless, the ‘unnaturalness’ of eating meat which has been artificially produced has until now been a leading barrier to widespread consumer acceptance of cultivated meat products. There are signs, however, that this sentiment could be changing, as show the results of a recent survey conducted by Israel-based cell-cultured meat company, SuperMeat.

Understanding that chefs and restaurants often lead the way in bringing new innovations to the mainstream market, the company surveyed over 250 US-based chefs on their likelihood of embracing and making use of cultivated meat products once they become available.

The results of the survey show that chefs in the US are overwhelmingly interested in exploring the opportunities of serving up cultivated meat to consumers. Providing an optimistic outlook for the future of cultivated meat, a whopping 86% of respondents reported an openness to serve their diners cultivated meat, rising to as much as 98% in some locations.

Meat alternatives are in hot demand

With almost half (47%) of global consumers currently following a diet based around the avoidance or moderation of animal produce, the demand for alternatives to traditional animal-derived products has never been higher. From consumers opting for meat alternative products in their daily grocery shop, to diners demanding vegan and vegetarian options on restaurant menus, the meat-alternative trend is fast growing across the food industry.

wher restaurants are concerned, 65% of chefs say that they have seen a growth in the consumer demand for meat alternatives over the past half decade, especially in the US Midwest, wher almost nine in ten (87%) respondents reported an increase.

In terms of how chefs are responding to this rising demand, 60% are opting for plant-based ingredients to create their own animal-free alternatives, while just under half (45%) are using finished plant-based meat products, such as those produced by the likes of Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat. These pre-prepared products are most commonly used in fast food and fast casual establishments, yet also appear frequently in casual, fine dining, and non-commercial outlets.

Food safety and environmental benefits are the main motivators of meat replacement

While it is not unusual to find a plant-based alternative option on the menu of most modern burger restaurants, cultivated meat products are much less common. Much of this comes down to regulation, with cultivated meat currently only approved for sale in one market, Singapore. Following an approval from the Singapore Food Agency, in December 2020 EatJust’s cultivated chicken bites became available for purchase by consumers, albeit with a price tag of $17 per portion in Singapore’s 1880 restaurant.

Yet regardless of the novelty and lack of regulatory approval in the sector, chefs are keen to incorporate cultivated products into their dishes, with over half (51%) rating food safety as their top motivating factor, especially in the fast food and non-commercial sectors. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the scale, the majority of fine dining chefs cite environmental benefits as the key driver behind cultivated-meat adoption.

© AdobeStock/tilialucida© AdobeStock/tilialucida

Most chefs would pay a premium for cultivated meat

When it comes to barriers to adoption, price is the main sticking point for chefs, with 68% saying that high cost would dissuade them from cooking with cultivated meat. This is followed by taste and texture, which is of much greater importance for fine dining than fast food chefs.

Yet not only are chefs keen to incorporate cultivate meat into their menus, but most (77%) are willing to pay a premium for these products. According to the survey, six in ten respondents reported a willingness to pay 11-15% premium on the usual cost of meat, while 6% would pay between a 16-20% markup. All in all, these results reveal a positive outlook for cultivated meat manufacturers hoping to see their products in the hands of chefs and on the plates of consumers in the coming years.

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