Cultured Meat and Farmers

In a two-year study, a team led by the RAU is asking what farmers think of cultured meat, then modelling how real farm businesses might fare if it becomes part of our diets. 

Will cultured meat impact UK farmers?  

Tackling and adapting to climate change will change the way we eat. While it is almost certain this will include eating less meat overall, there are big questions over how we get there. Do we cut back more on beef or on chicken? Who are the winners and losers? Do we change our habits, or substitute meat alternatives in processed foods?   

Cultured meat, also known as cultivated, cell-based, or lab-grown meat, is one type of meat substitute. It has attracted interest from investors because of its potential to have the same taste and texture as conventional meat, and appeal to committed carnivores. 

Until now, research into cultured meat hasn’t considered how it’s adoption would affect farm businesses. There has been significant research into the ethics, health, climate and economic impacts of cultured meat but farming has been left out of the picture. As well as mattering to farmers, this is important to understand the overall environmental, social and economic impact of these technologies.  

The project so far

We have held a number of focus groups with beef, pig, poultry, dairy, sheep and arable farmers from across the UK. We wanted to know their attitudes to cultured meat and how they imagine its development would affect them. We found recurring themes about the threats to food and farming, and some possible opportunities too. 

Watch now Cultured Meat and your Farm Business >

The winners and losers: searching for partner farms

The next phase of the research involves working with farms of the types most likely to be affected, for better or worse, to give us a picture of the impact cultured meat could have on UK farming. The findings will be used to advise on policies affecting this fast-growing industry. We are keen to partner with farms that fall into each of the following categories:

  • pig
  • poultry
  • conventional beef or lamb – particularly hill farms
  • pasture fed or organic livestock
  • rare breed livestock
  • dairy
  • fruit or vegetables
  • arable
  • protein growers eg. peas, beans, quinoa
  • and a farm with an on-farm food processing or brewing enterprise.

Any farmers who partner with us will be recompensed for their time and the findings could provide valuable business insights that could help them adapt or innovate in response to this and other emerging issues. If you are a farmer who would be interested in taking part in this project, please get in touch.

Who’s involved 

The project has been awarded funding by UK Research and Innovation as part of its Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund Programme. It is one of 11 projects awarded funding under Government’s Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) programme.  

UK research and innovation logo

The research team combines leading experts in cultured meat and technical specialists from academia and industry with experience in farmer-centred innovation. The main contributors to this project, which centres on farm-based models of CM production, are as follows: 

Project leads: 

Communications lead

  • Katherine Lewis, Research Engagement Manager, Royal Agricultural University

Project partners: 

The project has been developed with farming organisations, cultured meat businesses, food companies, charities and government, who will continue advising the research. They include the following:  

Aleph farms meat growers logo

The breakthrough institute logo

Campden bri food and drink innovation logo

Cellular agriculture logo

Energineering Solutions logo

Food farming and countryside commission logo

Good food institute logo

Green Alliance logo

Innovation for agriculture logo

LEAF logo

Multus Media logo

New Harvest logo

Proveg international logo

RSPCA logo

Sainsburys logo

Soil association logo


University of colorado and boulder logo