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? Do we change our habits, or substitute meat alternatives in processed foods?  Who are the winners and losers?

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, very little 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

The first phase of the project addressed farmers’ attitudes towards cultured meat. Focus groups were held with 75 farmers representing a wide range of sectors, spread across the UK. The groups discussed their understanding and perceptions of cultured meat and the potential impacts it could have on farming. The study found recurring themes about the threats to food and farming, and some possible opportunities too. 

Watch "Cultured Meat and your Farm Business" for a summary of the findings, or read “Threat or Opportunity”, a paper on farmer attitudes towards cultured meat, published in Frontiers magazine.

The winners and losers: partnering with case study farms

The next phase involves partnering with eight farms chosen to represent those most likely to be affected, for better or worse, by the impacts identified in the focus groups. Together, we will produce business plans for each farm setting out how they might adapt. These findings will then be used to produce a heat map of the winners and losers in an imagined future where cultured meat can be found in restaurants and supermarket shelves.

The outputs from the project will support policymakers and investors to consider the technology’s multiple impacts on farming and rural communities. These further findings are due to be published late in 2024.

Have a question, or want to be kept in the loop? Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.

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


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