Singapore is a foodie hub where tourists and locals alike gather to seek out unique dishes and experiences. From casual open-air hawker centers to the most sophisticated high-end restaurants, food is a source of pride for Singaporeans and a unifying cultural thread for the city-state.
The country – an island with few natural resources – is heavily reliant on food imports. Encouragingly, this reality has prompted efforts to embrace creative solutions to overcome future supply chain disruptions. Singapore’s government is now working towards ‘30 by 30’ – building up its agrifood capacity to the point where it will be able to satisfy 30% of the island’s nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030. This target also features prominently in the Singapore Green Plan 2030 as a key element for sustainability at large.
To overcome land and resource constraints, Singapore has established itself as a leader in the adoption of innovation geared towards food production. In December 2020, the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) made history as the world’s first regulatory authority to approve cultivated meat as an ingredient for sales. Shortly thereafter, patrons of restaurant 1880 became the first diners to indulge in a chef’s twist on cultivated chicken nuggets.
With this in mind, Aleph Farms was interested in learning what Singaporeans thought about eating cultivated steak. After all, for anyone seeking sustainable, eco-friendly food options that don’t sacrifice flavor or experience, cultivated steak checks all the boxes. So, we surveyed a diverse group of 600 Singaporeans to learn more.
“Over the last five years, consumer research on cultivated meat has focused on general population studies, and in country after country, we’ve found a high interest in these new products,” said our research partner, Keri Szejda, Ph.D, Founder and Principal Research Scientist of North Mountain Consulting Group. “Now, as cultivated steak comes ever closer to market, we’ve taken our research in an exciting new direction. In this study, we sought to more deeply understand the very first purchasers – who they are, what and how they eat, and their beliefs and values in food.”
Cultivated steak offers a unique dining experience to share with others
To date, most research on cultivated meat has focused on reporting acceptance among the general public. In this study, however, we aimed to enhance our understanding of how our early adopters in particular – likely to be among the very first consumers to purchase cultivated meat – feel about the product.
Surveyed consumers envisioned that cultivated steak may very well become a staple of their diet: 71% would order regularly and 27% would order occasionally. They also considered it to be a premium product: nearly all (95%) are likely to try it in a fine dining environment and almost 3 in 5 (59%) are willing to pay more in comparison to conventional steak.
The early adopters are meat eaters – we found that 85% are traditional omnivores and 14% are flexitarians. The most popular meal for eating beef is dinner, and when eating at restaurants, steak is the most popular type of beef. This is especially important because almost 3 in 5 meals (59%) are eaten outside the home and the majority of Singaporeans eat at fine dining restaurants at least once a week.
The people we surveyed see food as a way to connect with others. They also weigh altruistic considerations and health benefits when making food choices. Overall, they are adventurers who seek premium, novel, and innovative products and experiences.
Our key findings include:
Cultivated steak could become a staple: 71% of our early adopters in Singapore will order a cultivated steak regularly and 27% will order it occasionally.
Early adopters are omnivores who enjoy eating meat frequently: 44% have 8-14 meals per week containing meat and another 45% have 15-21 meals per week containing meat.
94% of our early adopters in Singapore love to discover new dishes or cuisines with their friends or family and 91% seek restaurants that offer unique culinary experiences.
A culture of adventurous eaters is hungry for more
Our study showed that more than 90% of the early adopters surveyed considered themselves adventurous eaters who often seek unique culinary experiences at restaurants. This did not come as a surprise – Singapore’s rich history has created a melting pot of diverse flavors where locals and tourists flock to enjoy the full gamut of culinary experiences. Singaporeans are known for seeking unique culinary delights where nothing is ever off the table. They are open-minded, adventurous eaters who love dining out and discovering new foods and flavors.
Sustainability is top of mind in Singapore
The search for flavor and unique experiences is important to Singaporean foodies, but a persuasive social conscience may provide even more insight into their ostensible embrace of cultivated steak. Our survey showed that most respondents ascribe high value to the sustainability of cultivated meat, with 99% of potential early adopters rating it between medium and high importance.
Health aspects are also high priorities: 99% put medium to high importance on zero antibiotics being used in food production and 98% seek GMO-free food options.
Will the world follow Singapore’s lead?
Singapore is clearly at the bleeding edge of cultivated meat. It was the first country to approve cultivated meat on the market. Now, Singaporeans have shown that they are extremely excited by the prospect of a sustainable meat option they could enjoy every day. They are sensitive to the impact that conventional meat production has on the planet and respond positively to cultivated meat supporting the greater good of animal welfare and sustainability.