New study finds consumer acceptance of animal-free dairy products
More than 70% of consumers are willing to buy cheese made using precision fermentation, according to new research co-published by cultivated dairy company Formo and the University of Bath.
Precision fermentation enables the production of specific proteins via microorganisms, which can then be replicated into real dairy proteins by inserting a copy of cow DNA.
According to Formo (formerly known as Legendairy Foods), the process is more efficient than using animals to make proteins and prevents the negative impacts of industrial animal agriculture such as CO2 emissions.
5,054 individuals from the UK, Brazil, Germany, India and the USA were surveyed as part of the consumer acceptance study – marking the first large-scale study of its kind.
The results – which were published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems – found that 70.5% of consumers surveyed would be willing to buy fermentation-derived dairy products; while 79% of consumers would be likely to try them.
“Just as we have seen plant-based milk taking an increasing share of the milk market in recent years, we now see that consumers are ready for a new kind of animal-free dairy cheese product,”
said Christopher Bryant of the University of Bath.
“Seeing the growing consumer groups of flexitarians and young people driving adoption of animal-free cheese is a big indicator that these products will appeal to consumers far beyond the niche markets of current vegan cheese.”
Across all countries, animal-free cheese was recognised as the most ethical and environmental product; while flexitarians showed the highest levels of enthusiasm for the product compared to other dietary preferences.
The survey also revealed that consumers understood taste improvements over current vegan cheese products.
Oscar Zollman Thomas, Formo’s lead researcher on the project, said:
“Most cheese lovers think current vegan cheeses are nowhere near the flavour or functionality level that meets their cheese needs. Precision fermentation is allowing us to fundamentally change that and make real cheese without animals involved.”
In September last year, the Good Food Institute reported that a record $435 million was invested in alternative protein fermentation companies in the first seven months of 2020.
Meanwhile in May, Spanish dairy company Pascual launched a global incubation programme for start-ups working within cell-based, fermentation based and applied techniques in the dairy industry.