How keen are consumers on animal-free dairy? Not so much, research finds

Researchers from Aarhus University’s MAPP Centre surveyed consumers from four European countries to gauge their perceptions of animal-free dairy – with a particular focus on precision fermentation-derived products – and determine how and why attitudes differed across different consumer groups.  

Shoppers from the UK, France, Denmark and Germany were asked about their level of knowledge about the technology – which outside of food manufacture is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry – and told how it can be leveraged to create microbially-synthesized milk proteins without involving a live animal. The researchers then sought to evaluate the consumers’ perceptions on product naturalness, taste and sensory experience, sustainability, affordability, and other associations. A range of plant-based, hybrid, and precision fermentation dairy alternatives were compared, along with conventional dairy.

“We wanted to answer three questions,” said one of the authors, associate professor Marija Banovic who works at the Department of Management at the MAPP Centre. “If we have these products on the market, would they be able to stand out? So we compared them to other dairy alternatives, such as plant-based.

“The second question we wanted to address was what are the attributes that resonate with the consumer – that would ‘catch their eye’ and actually make them accept this product?

“And the final question was, if accepted, will this acceptance continue over time?”