Red meat consumption in New Zealand has fallen 57 percent in the last decade and companies like Air New Zealand have started offering meat free burger patties.
But Plant and Food Research scientist Dr Jocelyn Eason told RNZ’s Sunday Morning that did not mean New Zealanders wanted to replace meat with lab-grown meat.
She said consumers were increasingly becoming “flexitarian” – choosing to be vegetarian sometimes and eat meat other times.
“We’re talking about flexitarian diets – allowing our consumers to choose when they want to eat meat, allowing them to choose when they want to be vegetarian.
“We’ve got a long way to go if we want to replicate meat – I don’t think we want to replicate meat – but we have got a really big chance to produce a whole range of plant-based foods that could provide much better nutrition.”
A study by Faunalytics – an animal rights non-profit research organisation – showed that 53 percent of Americans were willing to use lab-grown meat as a replacement for conventional meat.
Beef and Lamb’s Lee-ann Marsh said the industry did not see lab-grown meat as a threat.
Ms Marsh said that consumers were not wanting to stop eating meat but were looking for an alternative to factory farmed meat and were willing to pay a premium for it.
She said that presented an opportunity for New Zealand beef and lamb farmers.
KPMG head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot said that we were moving into a parallel food system.
“One that has a big chunk of functional, basic sustenance – things that you need to help you get through the day, things that help you perform better when it gets to 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then another channel of food which is all about raw, natural beautiful food – it’s the food people will eat when they’ve got time to cook,” he said.
“This is not an either-or conversation, it is absolutely a conversation about both food systems having a position in our future.”
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