“Clean meat” sees rapid growth as start-ups compete to bring first cultured meat product to market
By Jenny Eagle, GlobalMeatNews
The “clean meat” industry is experiencing rapid growth as start-ups worldwide compete to be the first company to bring a cultured meat product to market, according to IDTechEx.
Companies such as Memphis Meats, JUST and Aleph Farms have demonstrated prototype products but Dr Michael Dent, technology analyst, IDTechEx, asks when will the first products be ready including lab grown steaks served in restaurants.
In his report ‘Plant-based and cultured meat 2020-2030: technologies, markets and forecasts in novel meat replacements’ Dent explores the future of cultured meat, comparing it with plant-based meat, which has experienced a similar surge in publicity in recent years.
He says the idea of growing meat outside an animal has been around for a long time and even in 1931, Winston Churchill said by the 1980s “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.”
“Although his timing was off by four decades, his predictions are beginning to materialise as the world looks for new ways to feed its burgeoning population whilst overcoming the environmental problems of conventional animal agriculture,” said Dent.
In 2013, Dr Mark Post of Maastricht University cooked and ate the first synthetic burger grown from cultured animal cells in front of a room full of journalists in London.
The science behind cultured meat is well established, with major challenges including costs, scale up and regulation.
According to Dent, a sample of cells is first taken from a live animal and put into a bioreactor tank. Here, the cells are fed a nutrient-rich broth called growth medium that enables them to grow and divide, producing trillions of cells from a small sample.
Once enough cells have been produced, they are turned into developed muscle and fat cells through a process called differentiation and harvested. Standard food processing technologies are then used to form the final product – meat.
Unlike plant-based meat analogues such as those produced by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, cell culture has the potential to produce meat products identical to those produced through animal slaughter, but more efficiently at a fraction of the environmental cost.
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