Would You Eat Synthetic Meat? A Stakeholder Analysis of the Synth Meat Industry
Recently at Maastricht University in Germany, researchers have developed biologically identical beef grown in petri dishes (He 2016). The researchers aim to combat the excessive methane emissions from the American meat industry (He 2016). While their cultured meat could substantially decrease the size of the meat industry, their innovation depends strongly on the favorability of their product in the food market, In order to analyze how cultured beef has potential to solve emissions problems from cattle, a stakeholder analysis must be made. By analyzing stakeholders through Briner’s model of identifying stakeholders, it can be shown that the success of cultured beef depends largely on the reception of the food market (Bourne 2005)
This model details four main stakeholders: “client; project leader’s organization; outside services; and invisible team members” (Bourne, Walker, 2005). The clients in this case are the American and German researchers at Maastricht University. While they do hold the most power in being able to kill the project or further develop in vitro foods, they hold the least power in allowing their project to grow to produce enough food to combat methane emissions. While they have the strengths to please bio-environmentalists and social greens by solving sustainability and bringing eco-friendly food to a global audience, they require the financial support of market liberals who are in favor of the meat industry as it produces 6% of the US GDP (NAMI 2016).
The client’s organization in this case would be the university. They hold a role in providing the press and connections in order to attempt to gain the amount of funding allowing this meat to reach a global audience. They also have the power to cancel the project as they are in charge of what can be researched at their university, and the duty to encourage further developments in food technology. However, they also must rely on the market liberals to supply funding for their projects and therefore face much opposition from those who don’t want to harm America’s prosperous though unsustainable meat industry.
Both outside services and invisible hand refer to those that are willing to invest in the market of in vitro meat. Outside services have a stronger say, as they would be directly funding the project whereas the invisible hand refers to the consumer market that would support buying the beef. Both of these stakeholders rely on knowing if in vitro meat would be successful on the market. These stakeholders mutually share the biggest hand in the success of synthetic meat as their money decides if it will be successful on the market at all. Both of these stakeholders are very egocentric, and will only support what will benefit themselves rather than what might benefit a sustainable food culture. A recent poll done by The Guardian, shows a completely even split 37% in favor of and 36% against consuming in vitro meat (The Guardian). These two stakeholders are both market liberals, or in other words, will invest in what is most economically beneficial. If this poll were to shift in favor of positivity towards the beef, it would be very easy to say that the meat will become extremely popular and solve the sustainability problems of the meat industry.
Essentially, the stakeholders that create cultured meat hold little power. While they are the innovators creating solutions to a growing unsustainable industry, they hold very little power in getting their product to the masses. Due to little cooperation from the more ego and homocentric members of society that hold more power over whether their invention can be implemented or not, cultured beef, and other cultured meat faces many challenges before it solves the unsustainability of the American meat industry. If popular opinion towards the consumption of cultured meat shifts to positivity, however, it can be predicted that synthetic meat will solve the problems of unsustainability within the meat industry.
Bourne, Lynda; Walker, Derek. (2005),”Visualising and Mapping Stakeholder Influence” Management Decision, Vol. 43 Iss: 5 pp. 649 – 660
“The United States Meat Industry at a Glance.” Accessed February 5, 2016 https://www.meatinstitute.org/index.php?ht=d/sp/i/47465/pid/47465.
He, Yijun. “Will Your Next Burger Come From a Petri Dish?” NBC News. January 30, 2016 Accessed February 05, 2016. http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/can- cultured-beef-ease-meat-industry-s-environmental-impact-n506241.
Gould, H. (2014). Would you eat lab grown meat to save the environment? – poll. Retrieve March 24, 2016, from http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable- business/poll/would-you-eat-in-vitro-lab-meat-save-environment-poll