The State of Missouri is the first to pass a bill that controls what can be defined as “meat.” The bill mostly affects plant-based and lab-grown products. It prohibits lab-grown and plant-based protein manufacturers from using the term “meat” and selling their lab-grown or plant-based products alongside meat products on grocery shelves.
The US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) had started petitioning against lab-grown and plant-based meat alternatives earlier this year. It seems that the USCA is worried about the market threat of lab-grown products and wants the definition of “meat” to apply only in the traditional sense. This means that they want products that state they are “meat” or “beef” to strictly be products that were born, raised and produced into food using agricultural methods. The USCA established that meat must be from livestock and poultry and the meat must be sourced from slaughtered animals.
Missouri isn’t the first place to have its attention drawn to this possible new market problem. France prohibited non-meat products from using meat referencing terminology in April. This debate has started in Australia as well with the Cattle Council of Australia.
“Calling it meat is a lovely reach for them, but I think it should be called what it is, which is lab-grown protein,” Margo Andrae, Chief Executive of Cattle Council of Australia stated.
The Cellular Agriculture Society (CAS) is fighting back by working towards the advancement of the “post-animal bio-economy.” The non-profit, which was founded by former Harvard researcher, Kristopher Gasteratos, prefers to call lab-grown meat “clean meat.”
However, The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) claims that it is not against plant-based or lab-grown products. MCA says it wants to reduce customer confusion over what products are meat and what aren’t.
The unanswered question is if the labeling change will affect whether consumers want to buy these lab-grown products. The word “meat” is more familiar to consumers and could be more appealing.
However, lab-grown meats seem to be getting off on the right foot with vegan and vegetarian consumers. Surprisingly, it was found that many vegan consumers are willing to try lab-grown meat. A big benefit to this type of production is that it is not an animal-sourced product. Considering that animal cruelty and environmental issues are some reasons why consumers stray away from meat, this type of production might be ideal.
A survey of 1,000 US and UK consumers showed that 38 percent of respondents said they would not try such products, 29 percent said they would and 33 percent said they were on the fence. It is clear that the majority is not strictly against the idea. In addition, researchers found that Americans were more open to trying lab-grown meat. Around 40 percent of the American respondents said they would try the products as opposed to the 18 percent of UK participants.
Animals aren’t the only ones that benefit from these lab-grown and plant-based products; the environmental resources needed to produce the products is also decreased. The production of these products reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 96 percent and also requires 82-96 percent less water and 99 percent less land. According to CNN, the lab-grown products might even be sold in restaurants before the end of 2018 and possibly be in grocery stores by 2021.
The benefits of these products are very clear, however, there is always the possibility that consumers will shy-away from purchasing lab-grown meat if it is not labeled or sectioned the same way other meats are.