From Farm-to-Table to Lab-to-Table
By now, many are familiar with the farm-to-table movement. It refers to food that is entirely made from locally-sourced ingredients (often organic) that do not go through a store, market or other distributors along the way. In recent years, with the continued development of food science and technology, a new movement has been emerging in the market called the lab-to-table movement. Some speculate that this movement could change the farming and agriculture industry in years to come – from a sector that relies heavily on animals and land into a sector that can be accommodated in laboratories.
The lab-to-table movement is similar to the farm-to-table movement – preparing food using ingredients that do not go through a store or other distributors. But instead of coming from farms, it refers to ingredients (mostly meat) that are made in laboratories by using microorganisms, literally grown cell by cell.
It is, however, completely different from the now popular plant-based food trend – which uses no animal-sourced ingredients – as it is still made out of real meat, but without actually slaughtering any animals.
The farm-to-table movement has become more mainstream in the market as more restaurants choose to source their ingredients from their local farmers. As for the lab-to-table movement, it is still in its very early stage. We still can’t find products in the market that are lab-grown or have been approved in any country. The production cost is also still relatively high.
Despite that, the reality of the lab-to-table movement in the market may not be too far away – with various growing companies like Aleph Farms (Israel), Bluu Biosciences (Germany), Meatable (The Netherlands), and Eat Just (USA), focusing more on cellular agriculture and getting more support from investors for continued developments. Some have even done a public and private tasting of various prototypes.
As more people become conscious about environmental sustainability and animal well-being, the demand for an alternative may increase in the coming years. But here’s the big question: will consumers want to eat steak that isn’t from a real cow or chicken nuggets that are not entirely chicken?
Why is this interesting?
Ultimately, the success of every trend depends on consumer acceptance. Even if the lab-to-table movement is a good solution to feed the growing global population while holding environmental sustainability and animal well-being in high regard, it won’t survive in the market if consumers are not willing to consume cell-based produce.
As food trends continue to develop, there will be new trends emerging in the market. It is crucial for food manufacturers and providers to understand trends and their impact on consumers’ behaviour to avoid making a wrong strategic move.
ADK Insights continuously monitors trends in the food industry and translates its impact on consumer behaviours, providing insights to help businesses future-proof their innovation. To know more about our experience and see what it could mean for your business, please contact Rob, Nimrod or Dam.