Hanni Rützler, an Austrian nutrition scientist, made history in 2013 when she became the first person to taste meat grown in a lab rather than a pasture — or factory farm. The burger she described as tasting “as juicy as meat can be, but different” was developed by Mark Post and colleagues at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Josh Schonwald, an American food writer, also got a bite of lab burger at the press event in London. His take? “It wasn’t unpleasant.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
Host Frank Sesno speaks with Josh Balk, co-founder of Eat Just, which has produced and sells plant-based eggs and now, manufactured chicken. The first restaurant is now serving it in Singapore, and he says more manufactured food – chicken and fish – is on the way. Started from a single cell, say from a feather, in a lab, then ultimately to your plate, it uses a fraction of the water, produces a fraction of the waste, methane, and other things that pollute and warm the planet.
The study, which surveyed more than 4,000 people in the US and UK, found that 80% of people are either “highly likely” or “would consider” trying cultivated meat. Only 2 in 10 people said they weren’t open to it. Most of the consumers hadn’t heard of cultivated meat before the survey, but once they understood what it was, they could imagine a future where 60% of their meat came from conventional sources while 40% was cultivated.
The question was asked again this week when an article from Food Navigator zeroed in on Europe, noting, “Europeans want to know when it will be their turn: when will cultivated meat be served on EU plates?” It seems the most probable answer is three to five years.
According to the report, alt-protein has accelerated faster than any other industry in Israel since 2018, with a 187% CAGR in investments. In 2020, the sector raised $114 million, eight times the investment capital raised in 2018, indicating growing momentum for sustainable alternatives to meat. The report maps out the entire ecosystem, revealing the tight web of support for startups in this space, including incubators, government bodies, academic institutions and traditional food producers, providing a ripe environment for continued innovation and growth.
Cellular aquaculture has much potential as a new way to meet the limitations of wild capture and aquaculture in supplying the global demand for seafood. Cell-based seafood would also help conserve and restore our oceans and aquatic habitats, as the industry becomes increasingly efficient and innovative.
Companies developing sustainable meat and dairy alternatives smashed records with a €2.6B ($3.1B) haul last year. Why has it been such a bumper harvest?
In spite of the financial chaos resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic over the last 12 months, a staggering €2.6B ($3.1B) in funding went to companies in the meat and dairy alternatives sector, according to the nonprofit the Good Food Institute (GFI). This tripled 2019’s total.
Developers of plant-based alternatives reaped the lion’s share with €1.8B ($2.1B); biotechs producing protein via fermentation took a neat €497M ($590M); and more than €303M ($360M) backed companies developing cultured meat.
In this prospective Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study of cultivated meat (CM, also sometimes referred to as cell-based meat, clean meat, cultured meat and in-vitro meat) we provide insight into the environmental impact of this product when produced at commercial scales. This is the first LCA study to use primary data from multiple CM producers and companies in the upstream supply chain. Data collection efforts were carried out among over 15 companies active in CM development and the supply chain, supplemented with cross-checks by independent experts. While there are still uncertainties due to the early stage of technological development, we believe this study provides a robust inventory with as much primary data as is currently feasible.
Meanwhile, Memphis Meats, which Gates namechecked in the Technology Review interview, wants to avoid animals altogether whenever possible—including by harvesting cells from procedures like animal biopsies, where cells would be discarded. Memphis Meats makes ground beef, as well as lab-grown chicken and duck. So far, neither Memphis Meats nor Mosa is on any menus, with the economically depressed restaurant scene of 2020 putting a serious damper on development. Mosa believes it will have a menu-ready product by 2022.
In the Technology Review interview, Gates specifically cited Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat as examples of scalable technologies that could reach consumers more quickly. As for the “cellular” kind of lab grown meat? “I don’t know that that will ever be economical,” Gates admitted.
Today, we are on the cusp of another breakthrough in technology, this time in seafood and meat production, and we are being asked to select a name early in a technology’s lifespan. Indeed, no cultivated meat, poultry, or seafood products have been brought to market in the United States, yet an important debate is underway to determine appropriate nomenclature that is consistent with labeling laws in this country.