Livestock Farmers’ Attitudes towards Alternative Proteins

Crawshaw, Chloe and Piazza, Jared (2023) Livestock Farmers’ Attitudes towards Alternative Proteins. Sustainability, 15 (12). ISSN 2071-1050

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New food technologies such as cultured meat, precision fermentation, and plant-based alternatives may one day supplant traditional modes of animal farming. Nonetheless, very little is known about how traditional animal farmers perceive these new products, despite being directly impacted by their advance. The present study explored the views of livestock farmers regarding emerging protein alternatives. We used a comparison group of omnivorous non-farmers as a frame of reference. Forty-five UK-based livestock farmers and fifty-three non-farmers read an informative vignette about emerging food technologies that reviewed their advantages vis-à-vis intensive animal agriculture. Afterwards, participants rated four products (plant-based burgers; plant-based milk alternatives; cultured beef; animal-free dairy milk) in terms of their personal appeal and how much they represented a positive change to the market. Participants furthermore voiced their agreement or disagreement towards 26 statements representing potential facilitators or barriers to product acceptance. Overall, farmers rated the four products less appealing and less beneficial to the industry compared to non-farmers. Positive change ratings tended to be higher than personal appeal ratings for all products. Both groups tended to agree that the alternatives offered advantages, particularly for the environment, resource use, food security, and animal treatment, though agreement rates were lower for farmers. Farmers tended to perceive more barriers to acceptance than non-farmers, with ‘threat to farmers’ and ‘lack of support to local farmers’ of paramount concern to both groups. These findings highlight how farmers’ attitudes towards alternative proteins are mixed and, ultimately, shaped by the perceived vulnerability of farming communities.

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05 Jul 2023 13:35
Last Modified:
22 Sep 2023 15:30