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Food of the Future? Consumer Responses to the Idea of 3D-Printed Meat and Insect-Based Foods

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3D printing technologies are beginning to be employed to fabricate new food products. One of the more unusual and potentially controversial adoptions of this novel food technology involves the use of laboratory-cultured meat or insect-based ingredients to support ethical consumption, food security, and environmental sustainability initiatives. In this article, we discuss findings from our study involving an online discussion group with Australian participants concerning their attitudes to a novel technology that combined new food processing and presentation devices (the 3D printer) with a range of ingredients. The participants recognized the potential benefits of insect- and cultured-meat-based printed food for society. However, their own priorities for food consumption choices centered more on the qualities of health, taste, and naturalness. We found that overall, few participants articulated interest in or support for consuming or serving 3D-printed food products made from cultured meat or insects. Most expressed their disquiet about the degree of processing cultured meat undergoes. It was considered to be “unnatural,” and therefore not fresh, potentially harmful, lacking taste or not nutritious. Most of the participants also expressed antipathy towards the idea of eating printed products containing insects. While such products were considered more “natural” and nutritious than cultured meat, the idea of eating insects was predominantly greeted with disgust. As these findings suggest, plans to use 3D printing technologies to render ingredients such as cultured meat and insects more acceptable and appealing to consumers in countries like Australia have major cultural barriers to overcome.




Lupton, D., & Turner, B. (2018). Food of the Future? Consumer Responses to the Idea of 3D-Printed Meat and Insect-Based Foods. Food and Foodways, 26(4), 269–289.

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