Alternative protein products may have drawn rave reviews and national headlines this year, but consumers still prefer real beef produced on real farms.
That’s the conclusion of a survey of about 1,800 U.S. food consumers conducted by Purdue University’s Jayson Lusk, Ghent University post-doctoral research fellow Ellen Van Loo and Michigan State University agricultural economist Vincenzina Caputo.
The study asked consumers to make a number of simulated shopping choices. With each choice they had five options: conventional farm-raised beef, a plant-based burger made with pea protein, a plant-based burger made with animal-like protein, lab grown meat, or they could choose not to buy any of the products.
Holding prices constant, the authors found 72% of respondents chose farm raised beef, 16% plant-based meat alternatives, 7% plant-based animal-like protein, and 5% lab grown meat.
“Adding brand names (Certified Angus Beef, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Memphis Meats) actually increased the share choosing farm raised beef to 80%,” the authors said. “Environment and technology information had minor effects on conditional market shares but reduced the share of people not buying any meat (alternative) options, indicating information pulled more people into the market.”
Consumers also strongly objected to the use of the term “beef” on the label of a plant-based product, according to the resulting report, “Consumer Preferences for Farm-Raised Meat, Lab-Grown Meat, and Plant-Based Meat Alternatives: Does Information or Brand Matter?"
Further, the survey found that even if plant- and lab-based alternative experienced significant (50%) price reductions, farm raised beef maintains a majority market share.
“Vegetarians, males, and younger, more highly educated individuals tend to have relatively stronger preferences for the plant- and lab-based alternatives relative to farm-raised beef. Respondents are strongly opposed to taxing conventional beef and to allowing the plant- and lab-based alternatives to use the label ‘beef.’”