“Cultivated” or “cell-based” meat companies, growing food from animal cells, raised 417% more than in all of 2019. In part, it’s a continuation of a long-term trend. “2019 really appeared to be the tipping point where plant-based meat shifted into the mainstream,” says Caroline Bushnell, associate director of corporate engagement at the Good Food Institute. “Not only did we see the major meat companies debut plant-based product lines—pretty much all of them, from Tyson, to Hormel, to Smithfield—but iconic American restaurant chains like Burger King and Dunkin Donuts added plant-based meats to their menus, and retail sales grew double digits. So the momentum coming into this moment was already really strong.”
Consider the combination of the crops being used: soy, wheat, and pea protein are the most typical. This invokes the debate about wheat versus soy, about GMO versus non-GMO. As the plant-based movement shifted to the mainstream, it became a product that wasn’t just for vegans and vegetarians. People started looking at fat and sodium content. People cited the environmental impact. Yes, alternative meats use less water and land, but these are still monocrops. There’s a lot of noise coming from non-GMO activists as well as the traditional protein industry pointing out what can be seen as the “weaknesses” of alternative meats. As the category grows and competition speeds up, that’s only likely to increase.
In 2010 Isha published an important research paper called “Possibilities for an in-vitro meat production system”, when very few people even knew about the possibility of creating animal products without animals. She also co-founded Perfect Day a startup making milk without cows and Clara Foods, another startup making eggs without chickens. New Harvest is an important non-profit research institute fund and conducts open, public and collaborative research that reinvents the way we make animal products – i.e. without animals.
Last year, the MO team successfully removed Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) from our media. Given FBS is the standard used in cell culturing, this was no small task. But FBS comes from unborn calves and is obtained inhumanely, so removing it was a top priority. Some of our hard-working MO team. Since then, the MO team has been working to ensure the media we use is completely animal component-free. In addition to this, they’ve made a huge amount of progress in lowering the cost, which is vital given the medium will be the most expensive part of our process. Indeed, after successfully developing animal-free media, the MO team has reduced the cost by 88 times.
Due to a lack of academic research and background knowledge regarding cells and crustacean stem cells its taken them approx. two years to fill in any research gaps and to truly understand the entire biology, chemistry and physics behind the operation of stem cells, but they have “managed to make quite a bit of progress on the technology” and are looking to “commercialize this product in the next two to two and a half years.”
Bollywood couple Genelia and Riteish Deshmukh have started a new plant-based meat venture, Imagine Meats.Plant-based meats are made entirely from plant ingredients such as pea protein and coconut oil, but replicate the taste, smell, and sizzle of animal meat.Globally, the sector is growing rapidly, with several companies scaling up and even being listed on stock exchanges. Data from the Good Food Institute, the leading non-profit advancing the sector, shows 2019 was a watershed moment with hundreds of millions of dollars in global investment and retail sales in the sector, and increasing advancement into Asian markets.
Plant-based foods are not just incremental evolution of an existing category, but a revolution, according to Andrew D. Ive, founder and general partner of Big Idea Ventures (BIV). Driving this shift is a new breed of agritech startups that are developing culturally relevant, local foods that integrate into people’s ongoing consumption habits. Leveraging this trend, BIV launched the $50 million “New Protein Fund and Accelerator” programme that is focused on reducing animal factory farming by investing in early stage companies that are bringing plant-based and cell-based foods to market. The programme helps these companies to build, test and prepare for growth and are currently based out of New York and Singapore.
Is there a way to future-proof Australia’s food and agriculture industries? This webinar features Science alumni Dr Bianca Le and Dr James Ryall, who will share with you how science and technology can give us meat that has not come from the flesh of an animal.
Join us as we listen to Bianca interview James, the Chief Scientific Officer of Vow, a company that creates real meat from cells, instead of breeding and killing animals.
US cell-based firm New Age Meats has secured US$2m from investors just six months after raising $2.7m in seed funding from a consortium of backers.The California company said the new seed extension funding will help it to continue to develop cell-based, or cultivated, pork products.
The Good Food Institute Asia-Pacific will share the real stories behind this booming industry in our inaugural Asia Summit on Alternative Proteins. This summit will not be like anything else you’ve seen over the past couple of months. We will go in-depth, ask those questions no one dares to ask, and create those real-life connections we’ve all been longing for. Join us on 20-21 August 2020. This is the Asia industry summit you don’t want to miss out on.