Beef Is Back and Lab Meats Will Have to Work Harder

July 20, 2017

Only 13% are comfortable with eating meat grown in a lab.

You’ve heard the news about America’s most iconic fast food chain and their efforts to up their game with premium burgers. That’s right, McDonald’s is offering made to order quarter pounders and Signature Crafted Recipe burgers. It may not sound surprising since we’ve seen for the last few years, “fancy” burger casual restaurants pop up. Now this trend is trickling down into fast food of course. But the real take away here is that Americans are back into beef! 

After a decade of falling, beef sales are back up. Americans ate an average of 55 pounds of beef in 2016 compared to 54 pounds in 2015. What factors are at play here? More than likely affordability has motivated shoppers to put beef back on their plates as prices have gone down following a decade of increases in price by 50%. 

On the other hand, plant-based diets have come into the spotlight more these days, whether it’s trends in diets or celebrities praising vegetarianism or just more recommendations from nutritionists to put more fruits on veggies on our plates, there is an obvious nudge towards more plants in our diets. And climate concerns as well as animal welfare play a role as well. A 2008 Vegetarian Times study showed 3.2% of the population to be vegetarians, and 22.8% follow a vegetarian focused diet.

Enter lab meats! We’ve seen many new companies busy at work in their labs trying to create the latest and tastiest plant-based meat products to satisfy the meat cravings of those who want to put less real meat on their plates, but according to recent beef sales and the results of our exclusive SupermarketGuru survey, these companies have their work cut out for them. 

When we asked our panel, of which 14% say they are vegetarians or vegan, would they be willing to try meat cultivated in a lab, it was a close split. Forty-seven percent said yes, and 53% said no they would not. But when we asked are you comfortable with the idea of eating meat grown in a lab, only 13% said yes. 

In addition, we asked our panel if they would be willing to replace traditionally farmed meat with lab-grown meat, 49% said definitely no. And 46% said they are comfortable with eating traditionally farmed meat. 

In conclusion, we asked our panel if they considered eating meat an ethical dilemma - 72% said no. If these companies creating new meat replacement products want to win over consumers and compete with their current love for beef, they’ll have to get creative in finding ways to motivate shoppers to try their products, and bottom line, they’ll have to taste great!