Eating Your Values: Depoliticizing Alternative Proteins for a Diverse Consumer Base


Studies have shown that urban and liberal-leaning US consumers are more likely to try alternative meat compared to rural and more conservative-leaning
demographics. So, crafting messages that appeal to both audiences is vital.

The recent proliferation of plant-based meat

has the potential to significantly mitigate the environmental and ethical issues
brought up by conventional meat production. But in 2022, they still only made up
1.4 percent of total retail food and beverage dollar
in the US; and figures at a global level aren’t much higher, at least for
the time being.

which is made from cells without the need to raise and kill animals, has the
potential to yield similarly positive results for the environment and animal
welfare when compared to traditional meat production; but its uptake has been
similarly slow. With a market size valued at US$246.9
in 2022, meat produced from animal cells is currently available in Singapore
and will soon be in restaurants across the United States — thanks to the
Department of Agriculture’s recent
for cultivated offerings from GOOD Meat and UPSIDE

to be sold, opening the door to a world of opportunities for more food companies
looking to enter the sector; but the power of the conventional meat

continues to keep real growth of cellular agriculture and other sustainable
protein alternatives at bay.

Food and politics

Unfortunately, food — as with many issues critical to modern-day
— has become a political issue. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Communications experts understand that the way a message is conveyed can be the
difference between failure and success; and perhaps the most vital aspect of
effective messaging is to know your audience like the back of your hand. For
have shown that urban and liberal-leaning consumers are more likely to try
cultivated meat compared to rural and more conservative-leaning consumers.

Decoding effective methods of driving consumer behavior change

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But for an industry that aspires to reach as many people as possible, sending a
message that appeals to both young, urban and liberal-leaning consumers as well
as rural, older and conservative-leaning meat-eaters is vital.

Perhaps cultivated meat can learn from the mistakes of the plant-based
For example, part of the reason early market leader Beyond Meat has
experienced net revenue
recently (aside from supply chain shocks due to COVID and the war in
Ukraine) may have to do with its myopic targeting of young, urban
while disregarding older, rural ones.

Helping conservatives jump on board

According to Pew Research, 65 percent of moderate or liberal
agree that the US government needs to take stronger action to combat the effects
of climate change. Therefore, companies shouldn’t be afraid to highlight the
environmental benefits of meat grown from cells — which, according to the Good
Food Institute
, can potentially reduce the carbon footprint of meat production
by 92 percent.

But how this message is given needs to be adapted differently for liberal and
conservative consumers.

In the US, some of the most venerated conservative values center around limited
government and individual liberty; so, it’s important to highlight the freedom
of choice that cultivated meat offers to meat lovers, while empowering them to
help the planet on their own terms.

Another value which is usually important to those with conservative views is
national identity. Conservative Americans, for example, might be proud that the
US is in the lead when it comes to food innovation (being only the second
country, after Singapore, to approve cultivated meat at a national level).

There is also the possibility that China will approve cell-grown
sooner than later and expand its cultivated products, and influence, to other
parts of the world. For the US to remain competitive against China, continuing
research, development and investment in this sector is imperative (and vice
versa for China and other nations) — a rationale that many patriotic US
conservatives would appreciate.

Tailoring the message

Marketing messages can and should be adjusted for different target
For example, a Facebook ad campaign for a demographic that tends to lean
conservative (older, rural) should highlight both the universal (environmental
responsibility) and conservative values that cultivated meat has the potential
to reinforce.

It also shouldn’t be assumed that liberal-leaning (younger, urban) consumers
will automatically embrace cultivated meat. Appealing to this audience by
demonstrating the benefits of meat products made from animal
(such as their positive impact on the planet and animal welfare, and the
potential to eliminate the child-labor
often associated with conventional meat production) is something that cannot be

Uniting the world for the future of food

Food innovation that paves the way for planetary sustainability at an industrial
level is something all of humanity should embrace. But for those attempting to
convey that message, today’s politically charged environment cannot be

By understanding this reality and properly adapting messages for consumer
segments with their own interpretations of what is good or bad for the world, we
can ensure a soft landing for these novel foods that have the potential to make
the world a better place for everyone, for generations to come.


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