The future of food?

More and more I hear friends, family and consumers choosing to become vegetarians because of environmental issues ranging from cows themselves producing high levels of methane gases to the clearing of land for grazing as well as multiple others.

Therefore when reading that last week the world’s first lab grown beef burger was tried in London, I found myself debating whether this could be the answer to environmental issues we currently face when producing meat products.

Creating meat in a lab (by using cow stem cells to create muscle) could significantly reduce carbon emissions and make the food chain safer for all. With the food industry under constant scrutiny to commit to improving food safety standards and sustainability efforts, such innovation deserves serious praise.

However, consumer trends and behaviour indicate lab grown meats may face a few barriers. Increasingly consumers are seeking to eat ‘clean’, often avoiding any processed foods and decidedly opting for natural ingredients… arguably the complete opposite of a ‘lab grown’ offering.

Such a dilemma poses an interesting future problem for the food industry to have to face into. There is a risk that innovation seeking to build a more sustainable future could use technology that results in a product feeling too processed or unnatural, potentially resulting in consumer rejection.

That isn’t to say that this will be the case with lab burgers or any other lab grown food products that positively impact the environment, however innovators must put the consumer at the centre of innovation efforts as well as technological developments to ensure wins all round.

Ellie Tutt

22.08.16