It was meat It’s been part of the human diet since before the discovery of fire, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that large-scale meat production is doing more harm to the environment and the world than a benefit.
Across cultures and geographies, animals have been such a vital part of the food chain that it is hard to imagine a world where animals would not be put to the knife to produce protein.
However, there is no stopping innovation, and alternative sources of protein are increasingly becoming an option preferred by people.
Cell cultured meat is one of these sources. Also known as cultured or lab-grown meat, this process uses cells from animals to make meat without slaughtering. While the emerging sector is a hot topic for the benefits it promises, the process remains slow and expensive.
However, investments in this sector are heating up. If 2021 is anything to go by, there are plenty of companies and investors hungry for ways to scale and speed up the process — and to do so profitably.
However, it is not yet clear when lab-grown meat will reach the size needed to be seen at your local grocery store.
This is not a revolution, it is a transformation and it will take time. Frederick Gross Holz
Cell-grown meat owes its growing popularity, at least in part, to some of the overall challenges the world faces in food production. Excessive agriculture, man-made climate change and diminishing water sources contribute to a future in which food insecurity will be a massive problem.
The outlook is grim: the United Nations estimates that food production will need to double to feed the nearly 10 billion people expected to inhabit the planet by 2050. As for protein, people around the world consumed about 324 million metric tons of meat in 2020, and This number is set to rise even further.
Changing the way food is grown and produced is key to solving this problem, and we already have systems like vertical farming to address the problem of overgrowing, as well as protein sources other than meat. Currently, alternative protein makes up only about 2% of the animal protein market, but is expected to increase more than 7-fold by 2025.
said Sharyn Murray, investor engagement specialist at the Good Food Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for reimagined meat production. “The conversion ratio for calories in versus calories out is seven to eight chicken calories for one, while plant-based is one calorie in and one out.”
Grown meats are just one of the ways to meet the future demand for protein along with fermentation techniques and plants. Murray and others I spoke to referred to the movement as “a massive shift in the food system that will take time.” Meaning that the transformation won’t happen overnight, Murray said.
There is also only one company that has cell culture meat products available on the market currently: Eat Just, whose subsidiary GOOD Meat has received regulatory approval to produce and sell cell culture meat in Singapore. I only recently had the approval to sell chicken breasts made from cell cultures.
The movement is there even if they haven’t bought a lot of lab-grown meat yet, said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.
“It’s still small, and the most important thing we’re doing that other companies have to do is focus on the design, engineering, large-scale installations of ships and supporting systems to make a lot of it happen.”