Research unveiled at the recent Good Food Conference suggested the term “cultivated meat” might be the best way to describe products made in a lab from animal cells, Food Navigator reported.

Several terms tested during the terminology project done by The Good Food Institute and Barb Stuckey, chief innovation officer at Mattson, including “clean meat,” “cell-based meat,” and “lab grown” faced problems with consumers.  Researchers found “clean meat” confused consumers and seems to claim conventional meat is dirty.  “Cell-based” does not poll well with shoppers and “lab-grown” comes with marketing challenges, The Good Food Institute said.

“Not all manufacturers in this space are behind the term “cultivated meat,” Eric Schulze, Memphis Meats’ vice president of product and regulation, told Food Navigator the company would continue using the term “cell-based meat” because it is “factual, inclusive and neutral.”

When it comes to food products, names are critical and can quickly connote positive or negative associations for consumers.  As plant-based and cell-based foods become more popular, finding the right terminology has been a hard task.  For example, the term “vegan” equates to “not tasty” for a lot of people and the term “plant-based” tends to remind many of “vegan,” according to Food Dive.

But settling on an acceptable term to describe meat created in a lab has proven especially difficult.  While “lab-grown” was considered a serious marketing challenge in this recent research project, another recent online survey, commissioned by Ingredient Communications, found it resonated enough with 40 percent of U.S. consumers that they would be willing to buy something with that label from a restaurant or retailer.

“Clean Meat” has been a popular term so far for the niche segment and was originally used by the Good Food Institute as a better option than “cultured meat.”  Good Food Institute Co-Founder and Executive Director Bruce Friedrich said “cultured” tends to bring up the image of meat produced in a petri dish.

A Kadence International study conduced last year found just 27 percent of 2,000 adult consumers would buy “clean meat.” Yet 66 percent of them would try “lab-grown protein,” which is a rare vote of confidence for that particular term.  A larger problem for the industry may be that the Kadence study also found just 17 percent of U.S. consumers were familiar with the concept of “clean meat.”

More studies and focus groups may be required for companies to discover what terms click best with consumers, both in understanding how the products were made and making them appealing to shoppers.