The need for Australian cellular agriculture consumer research

We explore the urgent need for social acceptance research on cultivated meat and precision fermentation in Australia.
Cultured quail parfait by Vow
CAA is committed to supporting the development of the body of knowledge on consumer perceptions of cellular agriculture in Australia. That’s why we are partnering with Deakin University to achieve this. 

But why do we actually need more consumer research? Well, what’s the point of producing and selling cellular agriculture products if no one wants to buy them? 

Currently, there is very little publicly available data on Australian consumer perceptions of cellular agriculture technologies and products. While various global studies on predicted purchase intentions and willingness-to-try exist, data from the APAC region is limited, and Australian-specific data even more so.

However, a nuanced understanding of the appetite and predicted purchase behaviour for these products, as well as the drivers and barriers to uptake, is critical if the impact potential of cellular agriculture is to be realised. In particular, the role of consumer trust has been identified as an area requiring further research. 

Australia also has a unique consumer demographic and demand appetite which needs to be unpacked in the context of cellular agriculture. Notably, Australia’s strong agricultural industries (particularly red meat and dairy), and high per capita meat consumption, create a unique demand landscape which must be carefully navigated by cellular agriculture companies.

However, cellular agriculture consumer acceptance research is chronically underfunded and under-resourced - providing a white space which we at CAA saw an opportunity to fill.

Tasting cultivated lamb meatballs by Magic Valley
Enter CAA: supporting local Australian consumer research

That’s why CAA is supporting two research projects to be undertaken at Deakin University this year. 

We are excited to announce that our 2022-23 seed grant program, one of the objectives of which was to catalyse further research, has led to CAA supporting further research to be carried out by grantee supervisors Gie Liem and Adam Cardilini at Deakin University.

Research must deal with the added challenge of assessing consumer behaviour without products yet being available in the market - meaning actual consumer adoption and uptake cannot yet be accurately measured. That’s why we have partnered with consumer science experts Gie and Adam, to utilise their deep-seated expertise to lead this work

In supporting this research, our objectives are twofold:

  1. To directly contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of cellular agriculture, and;
  2. For this research to act as a groundswell to enable researchers to access larger grants in the future.

The Project: Australian consumer perceptions of cultivated meat and precision fermentation

The first of the research projects aims to bridge the gap in knowledge on the role of consumer trust, specifically epistemic trust (i.e. trust in scientific knowledge) and social trust (i.e. trust in people, organisations and institutions), in influencing consumer acceptance of cultivated meat and precision-fermented ingredients in Australia.

It is hoped that a better understanding of the role of trust will provide valuable insight in how to effectively communicate the benefits and risks of cultivated meat and precision fermentation to specific segments of Australian consumers, thus maximising consumer uptake of these novel foods. 

Gie Liem will be leading the first project with Phelia Harrison. They will carry out an online survey with a sample size representative of the Australian population. The survey aims to examine how consumer trust levels are associated with attitudes, beliefs, behaviour intentions, and acceptance towards cultivated meat & precision-fermented ingredients. 

Creamilux animal-free fat by Nourish Ingredients
Researcher Profile: Gie Liem

Associate Professor Gie Liem is a sensory and consumer scientist with the CASS food research centre, Deakin University. Gie Liem worked in both the food industry and academia, with a particular interest in the interaction between marketing strategies and perception, choice and intake of food. He published over 60 papers in peer reviewed journals in the field of consumer choice and perception of food. In addition, he is an executive editor of the Journal Appetite, which is one of the leading journals in the field of food consumer research.

“Social acceptance of new food technologies is a gradual process that evolves over time as consumers become more familiar with the technology and its benefits. Before we introduce new technologies to the market, we need to carefully consider barriers and drivers of acceptance. By doing so, we can develop strategies to overcome potential obstacles and leverage drivers to accelerate acceptance,” stressed Gie.

He also adds that “maintaining a consistent transparent narrative across various communication channels, including media, scientific discourse, and company communications, is crucial for effectively gaining consumers’ trust and support.”

You can read more about Gie’s work here - https://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/people/gie-liem

CAA is thrilled to be supporting Gie’s work and we look forward to sharing the outputs of this project.

If you, or someone you know, is an academic working in this space and would like to engage with our work, please don't hesitate to contact us!

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