Restaurants are a core sales channel for food startups and can serve as a bridge for consumers to accept new ingredients, new textures, and even different flavor profiles. For the cellular agriculture market this channel provides a significant opportunity to market test these products and present them to mass audiences, an important step for testing product acceptance and garnering consumer feedback.
However, as do many things in a restaurant environment. The viability of this channel as an opportunity for cellular agriculture companies comes down to the discretion of chefs- will chefs be willing to work with and embrace cellular agriculture products in their dishes?
In an industry first, cellular agriculture and SDC portfolio company, SuperMeat recently surveyed a wide range of U.S. based chefs to gauge interest in adding cellular agriculture meat items to their menus. Of those surveyed, 86% of chefs expressed an interest in adding these alternative meat or poultry options to their regular menus, and 77% were willing to pay a premium due to these product’s benefits – most importantly food safety and environmental friendliness.
On average chefs expressed the most interest in trying alternative poultry products compared to other meat with 51% indicating poultry was their most desired cellular agriculture item. Beef was the second most desired item with 38% of respondents. Chefs of different regions and specialities indicated different product preferences.
These survey results indicate that chefs are willing to embrace cellular agriculture items and presents a promising channel for alternative protein companies. In fact, more than half of the chefs surveyed (52%) stated they would be willing to put cellular agriculture products on their menus within a month or two of these being available in the market.
Early signs of this channel’s popularity are showing with Eat JUST launching the first cellular agriculture products in market through the restaurant channel in Singapore in 2020. While in Israel, The Chicken restaurant has now been serving cellular agriculture chicken products to customers for several years. Several Michelin star chefs are already considering including cellular agriculture items in their regular menus and establishing partnerships with companies to provide these products in the near future.
It is early days for the cellular agriculture market these signs point towards food service as being a key sales channel for producers for the space, but entrepreneurs should begin the foundational work of building relationships with decision makers in this channel in order to be well positioned for future product launches.