We’re talking about the genuine article here. Beef, Chicken, and Fish cultivated in a lab to replicate the REAL thing, minus the cruelty to animals and damage to the planet.
Disruption is closer than you might think….
In 1931 Winston Churchill published an article in popular mechanics entitled ‘Fifty Years Hence’. One of his predictions stated ‘’we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium”. While Churchill’s timeframe was incorrect, the main theme is starting to become a reality.
What is it?
Cell-cultured meat, also known as lab-grown meat, is genuine animal meat that is produced by cultivating animal cells directly. This method of production eliminates the need to raise farm animals for food. Cultivated meat is composed of the same cell types as animal tissue, arranged in the same or similar structure. By doing this, it resembles the nutritional and sensory characteristics of conventional meats.
A recent report by RethinkX – a think tank that analyses and forecasts technology-driven disruption, predicts the collapse of the cattle industry by as early as 2030, stating that animal meat will be replaced by cheaper, higher-quality food made in a laboratory.
The price of cultivating meat is a significant factor in this prediction. In the early 2000’s it cost a million dollars to produce a kilogram of cell-cultured meat. Today, it’s only $100 per kilogram. By 2025, the report projects that these proteins will be at cost parity of producing traditional animal proteins and five times cheaper by 2030.
Lab-grown meat means there is no harm done to any animals and a lot less waste. Traditionally farmed meats may use only 25-30% of the animal, whereas lab-grown meats, can focus purely on parts that consumers want to eat e.g. cultivating just the steak or chicken breast.
Better for the environment
A report by CE Delpht, makes some really bold but exciting predictions for the environment. The report suggests that cultivated meat could decrease greenhouse gas emissions by up to 92%, reduce pollution by up to 93%, use 95% less land, and decrease water usage by up to 78%.
Reduced foodborne illnesses
Antibiotics are not expected to be used in the commercial production of cell-cultured meats. This should result in fewer foodborne illnesses due to the lack of exposure risk from pathogens.
Avoiding biotech monopolies
Patents are already popping up for lab-grown meats and investment is largely coming from private sources. To avoid only a handful of big corporations dominating the industry, advocates in the space agree that it is crucial that more public funding is made available to make the sector more democratic and transparent.
Companies putting out poor-quality meats to get to market quicker
As businesses seek to rapidly scale, there is concern that this will come at the expense of product quality. Didier Troubia, a pioneer in the field of cell-cultured meat, believes that “we need to develop the right products and platforms to meet consumer expectations.” Troubia acknowledges that there are risks of companies cutting corners in terms of quality, nutritional value, and safety to get to scale quickly.
Despite Troubia’s concerns, The industry appears to acknowledge that strict regulations and government funding will be critical to maintaining high and consistent standards.
Consumer perception research shows that taste, price, and convenience are the three most important factors for getting people interested in making the switch to lab-grown meat. Further studies show up to 80% of customers in the US and the UK are willing to taste meat produced in a lab, with those numbers falling to 58% in Germany and 46% in France.
Seren Kell – Science and Technology manager at the Good Food Institute says ‘So far people haven’t been presented with two options. People eat meat not because of how it’s made, they eat meat despite how it’s made’. Further, Kell believes that if people had the option of choosing traditionally farmed vs cell-cultured meat in the supermarkets, the adoption statistics would be a lot higher.
3 players with traction
Aleph Farms (Beef) https://www.aleph-farms.com/
Based in Israel, Aleph Farms (AF) are a trailblazer in the industry. AF cultivated the first beef steak in 2018, grew meat in space in 2019, and produced the first ribeye steak in 2021. Leonardo DeCaprio is an investor and on the board.
Wild Type Foods (Fish) https://www.wildtypefoods.com/
Founded by a Cardiologist and Diplomat who were inspired by breakthroughs in stem cell research, they produce Salmon in closed, animal-free systems designed to keep fish in the water and out of farms.
Good Meat (Chicken) https://goodmeat.co/
The first company in the world to sell cultivated meat. Their first product – Good meat cultivated chicken, was approved for sale in Singapore and is currently available at select restaurants.
5 Interesting Insights
1. Cultivated meat companies raised $1.38B in 2021 which equates to 71% of the all-time total investment.
2. A total of 107 cultivated meat and seafood industry startups have been announced to launch by end of 2021, up 24% from 2020.
3. 25 countries have at least one cultivated meat company.
4. Meat and fish industry heavyweights, like Tyson Foods, JBS and Maruha Nichiro are all investing in cultivated proteins.
5. Research into cultivated meat is heating up. Scientific publications focused on cultivated meat are rising exponentially each year.
The Good Food Institute. 2022. Cultivated meat | State of the Industry Report | GFI. [online] Available at: <https://gfi.org/resource/cultivated-meat-eggs-and-dairy-state-of-the-industry-report/> [Accessed 25 September 2022].
CE Delft – EN. 2022. LCA of cultivated meat. Future projections for different scenarios – CE Delft – EN. [online] Available at: <https://cedelft.eu/publications/rapport-lca-of-cultivated-meat-future-projections-for-different-scenarios/> [Accessed 25 September 2022].
RethinkX. 2022. New Report: Major disruption in food and agriculture in next decade — RethinkX. [online] Available at: <https://www.rethinkx.com/press-release/2019/9/16/new-report-major-disruption-in-food-and-agriculture-in-next-decade> [Accessed 25 September 2022].
The Good Food Institute. 2022. The science of cultivated meat | GFI. [online] Available at: <https://gfi.org/science/the-science-of-cultivated-meat/> [Accessed 25 September 2022].