Lab-grown meat and insects on the menu for young adults
27 December 2022
New research from the University of Reading shows that younger age groups are significantly more likely to be open to the idea of eating lab-grown meat, or insects, than older people.
Avoiding many of the environmental and ethical impacts of rearing animals, insect protein and lab-grown meat are two promising alternatives. But will people be willing to eat them?
In association with TrustTracker®, a survey of 23,000 consumers across 18 countries, researchers asked people how they felt about lab-grown foods – also known as cellular agriculture – and eating insects.
The survey showed that young adults are most open to consuming these products, with around half of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they would happily eat lab-grown meat. And people up to the age of 44 are less likely to totally reject the idea of eating insects.
The research is funded by the EIT Food programme. EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.
Professor Richard Bennett led the research. He said: “This is an interesting result for the future of sustainable food. Young people tend to be the innovators in changing food habits. They are likely to influence older people around them to do the same, over time.
“All age groups want to know more about the health and safety implications of these new foods. If we want to see these new, sustainable protein sources taken up, it will be vital to have a comprehensive communication plan to address any remaining concerns.”
In a more in-depth follow-up survey of 2,400 consumers in 6 of the countries, the team of researchers found that most (58%) respondents said this was because “the thought of eating insects is repulsive to me”. Most (over 60%) respondents said they might be motivated to eat insect-based foods because of potential environmental, sustainability and nutritional benefits, lower food cost, and if it tasted good.
The results also varied by country, with Israel leading at, overall, 49% of people saying they are open to lab-grown foods. The Czech Republic was most cautious, at only 25% of people saying they would eat food produced that way.
Israel’s respondents were least likely to accept insects as food, which is likely a reflection of the fact that locusts are the only edible insects considered kosher, in Judaism. The UK is relatively more accepting of insects, coming fourth, behind Denmark, Spain and The Netherlands.
IMAGE: "Edible insects" by zomya.co is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.