Acceptance Of Meat Alternatives In Kenya, Egypt, And Nigeria
Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria have large populations that skew younger. All three countries are also showing some of the highest rates of population growth globally. This is accompanied by rapidly developing economies, which will likely result in increases in meat consumption.
Due to the resource-intensive nature of animal farming, an increase in demand for animal products may exacerbate existing issues of food insecurity and cause problems within the existing supply chains. It is also likely to have negative environmental impacts in the region.
There are two alternatives that may address these potential downsides; plant-based meat (PBM) and cultivated meat (CM). PBM refers to products created using plant protein intended to mimic meat products. CM instead involves using animal cells in a bioreactor to create meat products without the requirement for animal farming. Both products have the potential to address health, environmental, and ethical concerns of traditional animal protein.
This study looked at consumer acceptance of PBM and CM across Egypt, Kenya, and Nigeria, using an online survey. Overall, 2,654 participants between the ages of 18 and 39 took part, split across the three countries. Before answering the questions, participants read introductory texts on both PBM and CM, to ensure they understood the definitions and differences between the two.
93-97% of participants reported eating meat, most regularly beef, chicken, and fishes. Meat consumption was found to be far higher in Nigeria than in Kenya or Egypt. Common reasons for eating meat across these countries included meat being a part of people’s usual recipes, as well as for health and taste.
Over 95% of people were open to both trying and buying PBM. This likelihood was higher for those who had already tried or bought PBM in the past. The likelihood to purchase was higher in Kenya than in Nigeria or Egypt.
Across all countries, factors that made participants more willing to buy PBM included increased familiarity with the products, health concerns, and for the benefit of increased food security. Other factors varied by country. For example, in Nigeria and Kenya, men were more likely to buy PBM than women. Participants in Nigeria were more likely to buy PBM if concerned about animal welfare. For people in Egypt, those who ate more meat were more likely to buy PBM.
In terms of likelihood to buy PBM, people across the countries were most motivated by health and food security. To a lesser extent, participants were also motivated by altruistic factors including animal welfare and environmental impact. Finally, consumers in Egypt were motivated by religious factors and workers’ rights.
In terms of the specific PBM products that participants were interested in, nutrition was found to be most important to people, followed by taste and cost. Participants most desired products that mimicked chicken, beef, and fish. Burgers were the most desired form of these products in Egypt, while in Kenya it was sausages, and in Nigeria, it was stew meat.
The majority of participants reported that they would be open to trying and buying CM, as well as hybrid products consisting of both PBM and CM protein. In all countries, people reported that they’d be more likely to try hybrid products than CM.
Across countries, people were more likely to purchase CM if they had greater familiarity with the concept. In Kenya and Nigeria, other predictors included more frequent meat consumption and identifying as men. People in Egypt were more likely to purchase if they were from an area with high population density.
Finally, participants were asked to predict, in a hypothetical future, what percentage of their meat consumption would be PBM, CM, or traditional animal meat if the availability and prices of all three products were equal. The highest estimated percentage of alt-meat consumption was in Kenya (53% PBM, 22% CM), followed by Nigeria (43% PBM, 23% CM), and then Egypt (26% PBM, 18% CM).
Overall, this study found evidence of an appetite for PBM in these African countries. The researchers argue that a combination of PBM, CM, and hybrid products might be a useful strategy to combat the negative effects of farming and eating meat from animals. Generally, participants were less familiar with and accepting of CM compared to PBM. More work may be needed to increase consumer acceptance of CM products. As these results show, attitudes to these alternatives are not the same across cultures. Different strategies may be needed when stressing the benefits of PBM and CM in different countries.
It’s worth noting that the conclusions made in this study rely on attitudes and predicted habits reported by the participants. While this can be a useful tool, it’s not always totally reflective of real behavior. For instance, a recent study found that people’s reports of how likely they are to reduce their meat consumption may be influenced by “social desirability” — whether they think the experimenter wants them to give a certain answer. It will be important to monitor the actual success of these alternative meat products as they become more familiar and available in Nigeria, Egypt, and Kenya. Advocates in these countries can aid this cause by continuing to educate consumers on the benefits of the adoption of alternatives to animal products.