Have you tried laboratory-grown meat?

Laboratory-grown meat companies attract six times more investment | Meat industry

The emerging industry growing real meat in bioreactors had a record year in 2020. Investments have increased sixfold and dozens of new companies have been launched.

A study also shows that 80% of people in the UK and US are open to eating meat made in a factory rather than a field. The researchers conclude that cultured meat is likely to be widely accepted by the general public.

Cultured meat can cause significantly fewer climate heating emissions than meat from cattle and other animals that belch methane, and it also requires much less land and water. Reducing the overconsumption of conventional meat in rich countries today is seen as critical to tackling the climate crisis.

The companies often develop eaten meats like chicken and beef, but also tuna, lobster, horse and kangaroo. The products are manufactured in sterile facilities without antibiotics, which reduces the risk of antibiotic resistance to human health.

The Good Food Institute (GFI), a charity focused on sustainable protein, said in its annual industry report Grown Meat Companies received more than EUR 300 million in investments in 2020 and the number of companies increased by 43 % on 76.

Several companies were said to have moved from the laboratory to facilities that could produce thousands of kilograms of meat annually. This includes Mosa Meat in the Netherlands, whose founder produced the first beef burger from the laboratory in 2013.

“Early steps were driven by the promise of cultured meat - real meat with a fraction of the adverse climate impact and no contribution to antibiotic resistance or pandemic risk - but no one knew if the world was ready. Now we know, ”said Bruce Friedrich, Managing Director of GFI.

Plant-based alternatives to meat like the Beyond Burger have hit the mass market, while cultured meat won't be widely available for at least a few years. However, cell-based meat supporters believe its authentic taste will give it an edge, and the world's largest conventional meat companies like Tyson and Cargill are big investors in the sector.

Cultured meat was first approved for sale in Singapore in November. A recent report suggested that such meat would remain more expensive than regular meat through the early 2030s, but that Europe and North America could achieve “top meat” by 2025 thanks to plant-based alternatives. An analysis in 2019 found that most meat wouldn't come from slaughtered animals until 2040.

Acacia Smith, Policy Manager at GFI Europe, said: “2020 was a record year for the cultured meat sector. It is noteworthy, however, that much of this progress has been made outside of Europe.

"To have the chance to meet their climate goals and end deforestation, governments need to invest in the open access research we need to make cultured meat accessible and affordable."

The research on attitudes toward cultured meat is published in Foods magazine and examined the views of 4,000 representative consumers, half in the UK and half in the US. "We found a high level of openness - 80% - in both the US and the UK, with 40% having a high probability and 40% having some or moderate probability of trying," the researchers said.

Younger generations had the greatest openness. More than 85% of those under 39 said they would likely try cultured meat. About 75% of the older age groups said the same thing. On average, people said they expected cultured meat to make up about 40% of their future meat intake.

"The results suggest that cultured meat is likely to be widely accepted by the general public, especially the younger generations and an avid group of early adopters who appreciate its benefits," said Keri Szejda of Arizona State University in the US, which conducted the meat study. "These groups tend to need little encouragement to try new food innovations."

The study was funded by Aleph Farms, an Israeli company that unveiled the world's first laboratory-grown steak, Didier Toubia, chairman of the board, said: "The long-term vision is to provide a better alternative to industrial livestock farming, which is currently around 70% of global meat production. "

According to GFI's report, fundamental technological breakthroughs are not required to produce meat for the mass market, but technical challenges remain to further reduce costs.

In early May, Israel's Future Meat announced that it had halved the cost of producing its cultured chicken breast from $ 7.50 to $ 4 in the past four months. The company expects the cost to drop below $ 2 in 18 months.