Consumer preferences for farm-raised meat, lab-grown meat, and plant-based meat alternatives: Does information or brand matter?

Loo, Ellen J. Van; Caputo, Vincenzina; Lusk, Jayson L.


Despite rising interest in and sales of innovative non-animal-based protein sources, there remains a lack of information about consumer demand for these new foods and their ultimate market potential. This study reports the results of a nationwide survey of more than 1800 U.S. consumers who completed a choice experiment in which they selected among conventional beef and three alternative burger patties, (lab-grown, plant-based with pea protein, and plant-based with animal-like protein) at different prices. Respondents were randomly allocated to treatments that varied in the presence/absence of brands and information about the competing alternatives. Results from random parameter logit models indicate that, holding prices constant and conditional on choosing a food product, 72% chose farm-raised beef and 28% chose one of the alternatives: 16% plant-based (pea protein) meat alternative, 7% plant-based (animal-like protein) meat alternative, and 5% lab-grown meat. Adding brand names (Certified Angus Beef, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Memphis Meats) increased the share for choosing farm-raised beef to 80%. Environment and technology information had minor effects on conditional market shares but reduced the share of people not buying any options, indicating information pulled more people into the market. Even if plant- and lab-grown alternatives experienced significant (e.g., 50%) price reductions, farm-raised beef maintains the majority market share. Vegetarians, males, younger, and more highly educated individuals tend to have relatively stronger preferences for the plant- and lab-grown alternatives relative to farm-raised beef. More people opposed than supported taxing conventional beef for environmental and animal welfare objectives and more opposed than supported having plant- and lab-grown alternatives use the label ‘beef’