A study commissioned by Germany’s LI Food — a state initiative for the food industry in Lower Saxony — has found that consumers often underestimate the climate impact of dairy products.
The survey found that while most consumers are now aware of the environmental impact of meat, they believe that cheese is significantly less harmful. In reality, the opposite is sometimes true — Parmesan produces 6.3 CO2e/kg, while pork produces 4.6 CO2e/kg. Most respondents also did not associate cheese production with animal suffering.
The study then asked consumers about their openness to alternatives to cheese — specifically, animal-free products made using precision fermentation. While there was a degree of scepticism about food technology, responses were generally positive, especially among consumers who were aware of the environmental impact of dairy.
This echoes the results of studies conducted by Formo, which found that consumers were excited and curious about precision fermentation. They also readily saw the advantages of animal-free dairy for the environment, animal welfare, and improved consumer choice.
“Exciting target group”
While dairy alternatives made using precision fermentation are already on the market in the US, they have not yet received regulatory approval in the EU. However, the EU’s European Innovation Council recently committed €50 million to startups focused on precision fermentation and algae.
Meanwhile, the French government has granted €2 million to Standing Ovation, a company working to produce non-animal caseins at scale through fermentation. The LI Food study notes that precision fermentation technology is not entirely new, as it is already used to produce medications such as insulin.
“Younger people and lovers of different types of cheese in particular represent an exciting target group for [animal-free cheese] products,” said study author Dr. Clara Mehlhose.
Co-author Dr Sarah Kühl added, “Anyone who is fundamentally open to innovation and is aware of the negative effects of dairy farming would buy animal-free cheese on a regular basis.”