Do Japanese consumers favour sustainable meat?

Posted: 9 January 2023 | | No comments yet

A study has revealed that there are consumer preferences for sustainably produced meat and meat substitutes in Japan.

sustainable beef

According to a recent study carried out by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Shinshu University, Japanese consumers favour sustainably produced meat and meat substitutes.

With livestock production accounting for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity, some consumers may take climate concerns into account when food shopping, altering their purchases with sustainability in mind.

Aiming to understand consumer preferences and attitudes towards alternative protein sources, the researchers conducted a survey comprised of 4,421 beef consumers and shoppers in Japan.

“To the best of our knowledge, this report is the first to explore and give insights on beef and meat substitutes in Japan, where there have been fewer reports than in other markets,” said Takumi Ohashi Associate Professor from Tokyo Tech.

The results of the study revealed that most of the respondents preferred domestic beef however their choice of production methods and preference for meat substitutes were reportedly influenced by a wide range of factors such as cost, familiarity, and various sociodemographic characteristics.

“Five segments could be identified according to the respondents’ choice preferences in each segment: novelty accepters, generous customers, attribute–economy balancers, price–conscious, and conservatives,” commented Ohashi.

Sustainable diets: how to ‘meat’ in the middle

The largest group (32 percent of respondents) were willing to pay a premium for organic beef mince. The second largest group, (over 19 percent) were conservative consumers who preferred beef mince produced by conventional methods. Additionally, 18.3 percent of respondents were attribute-economy balancers and 18.1 percent were price-conscious customers who were influenced by the price of meat when making their decisions.

Additionally, in these four segments, plant-based substitutes and cultured meat were the least preferred. However, “novelty accepters”, who made up the smallest group of respondents at 13 percent, were consumers that researchers said “stood out” in the survey due to their high preference towards sustainably grown meat and meat substitutes. Researchers notes that this group was characterised by their willingness to try new and innovative products.

Overall, the survey found that 80 percent of respondents preferred Japanese-origin organic beef and were willing to pay a premium for the same. However, researchers highlighted that most of the respondents were unlikely to switch to plant-based meat or cultured meat.

The takeaway results of the survey suggest that there is a diverse range of preferences and behaviours among consumers in Japan when it comes to the types of beef production and meat substitutes.