Mary Allen • March 04 2019

New study highlights plant-based and cultivated meat acceptance in the U.S., China, and India

In every country, the more comfortable people were with new foods and the more familiar they were with plant-based or cultivated meat, the higher their acceptance.

Researchers from the University of Bath, the Good Food Institute, and the Center for Long Term Priorities collaborated on the first quantitative comparison of consumer attitudes towards plant-based and cultivated meat across China, India, and the U.S.

The open-access, peer-reviewed research was recently published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. With over 3,000 participants surveyed, this exploration of market demand is also the most extensive to date.

Here’s what we learned:

There’s a big big big consumer base for new methods of meat production

The observation: 33 percent of U.S. consumers, 62 percent of Chinese consumers, and 63 percent of Indian consumers were “very or extremely likely to purchase plant-based meat regularly.” Cultivated meat clocked in at 30, 59, and 56 percent, respectively.

The takeaway: The three most populous countries in the world have robust consumer interest in plant-based and cultivated meat. Interest in cultivated meat is expected to grow once there is a product on the market and consumers are more familiar with it.

More familiarity = more acceptance (in every country)

The observation: In every country, the more familiar they were with plant-based or cultivated meat, the higher their acceptance.

The takeaway: Continuing to normalize and get the word out about plant-based and cultivated meat will likely lead to greater and greater acceptance over time.

U.S. meat-eaters = U.S. target demographic

The observation: People with high meat attachment were more interested in cultivated meat than plant-based meat. Nevertheless, 91 percent of people interested in plant-based meat were omnivores.

The takeaway: Plant-based meat and cultivated meat companies could market to different consumers in the U.S.—those with low and high meat attachment, respectively. Cultivated meat has a crucial role to play for reaching consumers with high meat attachment: both plant-based and cultivated meat will be needed to answer market demand.

Health and nutrition is central in China

The observation: Chinese respondents who perceived plant-based meat to be healthier than conventional meat were more likely to want to buy it. Those who thought cultivated meat would offer a higher nutritional value than conventional meat were also more likely to buy it.

The takeaway: Optimizing the nutritional profiles of plant-based and cultivated meat, especially with regards to conventional meat (less saturated fat, more omega-3s, anyone?), seems like an especially excellent plan in Chinese markets. Further research should also assess food safety considerations as a potential driver of consumer preference for plant-based and cultivated meat.

Indian consumers really get the necessity thing

The observation: Plant-based and cultivated meat acceptance both correlated with perceived necessity among Indian respondents. Sustainability drove plant-based meat acceptance, and ethics drove cultivated meat acceptance.

The takeaway: Indian consumers seem most attuned to the environmental and ethical challenges of conventional meat production. Sustainability- and ethics-forward marketing may be more effective in India than China and the U.S.

Messaging plant-based and cultivated meat effectively in different markets around the world will be critical for shifting the global food system. Read the full report here.

Related articles

Varun Deshpande • November 2018

Why India is a priority for plant-based and clean meat innovation

Mary Allen • November 2018

Why GFI is taking good food global

Mary Allen • January 2019

Your 2019 reading list: Plant-based and clean meat essentials

Mary Allen • February 2019

2018 Year in Review: Nourishing the world sustainably

Ramya Ramamurthy, Varun Deshpande • March 2019

World’s first cellular agriculture research center, coming to Maharashtra

Ramya Ramamurthy • April 2019

Indian government grants over $600,000 to cell-based meat research

Mary Allen • May 2019

Watch Bruce Friedrich’s TED Talk on plant-based and cell-based meat

Ramya Ramamurthy • August 2019

How Goodmylk Founder Abhay Rangan Is Making Plant-Based Waves in the Indian Dairy Market

Bruce Friedrich • September 2019

Cultivated meat: Why GFI is embracing new language

Varun Deshpande • September 2019

3 Key Takeaways on India from the Good Food Conference

Ramya Ramamurthy • October 2019

Global Innovators Can Make All the Difference in Emerging Markets

Mary Allen • November 2019

How plant-based meat can help heal our soil while feeding more people than ever

Bruce Friedrich • March 2020

The Upshot Of My India Trip

Nate Crosser • May 2020

New GFI State of the Industry Reports show alternative proteins are poised to flourish post-Covid-19

Shardul Dabir • June 2020

The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge: Unlocking talent bottlenecks

Nicole Rocque • August 2020

The India – Netherlands Smart Protein Corridor

Liz Specht, Ph.D.Nate Crosser • September 2020

GFI releases first-ever State of the Industry Report on fermentation in alternative proteins

Ryan Huling • December 2020

BREAKING: World’s first approval of cultivated meat sales

Susan Halteman , Victoria Wheeler • December 2020

GFI’s top 20 moments for alternative proteins in 2020

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D. • February 2021

How pulses are powering global alt protein innovation

Ryan Huling • May 2021

WHO and GFI Convene Historic Workshop to Discuss Global Regulations for Alternative Proteins

Ayesha Marfatia & Varun Deshpande • December 2021

Expert insights from behind closed doors: Building smart protein infrastructure

Shardul Dabir • July 2022

The India Smart Protein Innovation Challenge: Transforming the future of food and training the next generation of innovators

Padma Ishwarya, Radhika Ramesh, Devika Suresh • January 2023

Skilling ‘industry-ready’ talent for smart protein in India

Chandana Tekkatte • February 2023

‘To meat or not to meat’ – the future of plant-based proteins

Ojasvi Uppal • March 2023

Navigating the Regulations on Advertising and Claims for Smart Protein Products in India

Nicole Rocque • April 2023

The story behind the numbers: smart protein investments in India

GFI India • January 2024

UNEP and GFI India convene a panel on synergies between sustainable agriculture and smart protein in the Indian context

Radhika Ramesh • April 2024

GFI India at UNEA-6: Sustainable Protein Diversification and Multilateral Environmental Action