What’s in a name? If you ask The Good Food Institute (GFI), an organization that recently conducted a study on terminology referring to meat made from animal cells, a lot. That’s why it’ll be adopting the term “cultivated meat” moving forward.
“The results of our research indicate that ‘cultivated meat’ is the best fit for neutrality, understandability and appeal,” says GFI media and communications manager Maia Keerie. The winning terminology had to meet a variety of additional benchmarks, like enable existing meat industry stakeholders to join the conversation, have the potential to be applicable in a regulatory context, and resonate with and empower consumers to make informed decisions about their meat options. “Neutrality and understandability are necessary but not sufficient,” Keerie adds. “Appeal is critical. Without consumers, there is no market. Without a market, we cannot transition to a more sustainable, healthy and just food system.
GFI whittled down an initial list of over 400 names down to four finalists: cultured (which already has meaning in seafood), cell-based (which faces technical hurdles, since all meat is cell-based), cell-cultured (unappealing to focus groups), and cultivated. While Keerie explains that this term is less well-known than “cultured” or “cell-based,” the concepts surrounding “cultivated meat” (“cultivating meat,” “meat cultivators,” etc.) are already widely in use. Plus, nearly every participant responded positively to it.
Though the industry has been using a wide range of terms to describe cell-based meat, GFI believes that now is the time to align. In an effort to assist, it developed three tools: a narrative framework to explain cellular agriculture to the general public, a visual analogy that illustrates the parallels between cellular agriculture and other forms of food production and an analysis of the benefits and challenges of different names. “We believe this framework will help the public understand what cultivated meat offers them as individuals, and what it makes possible for our food system,” Keerie says. “We invite everyone to draw from this work as it is useful to them, and we hope others will begin to use the cultivation language.”