Lab-grown meat: the new trend

Profiling Israeli startup, SuperMeat

If there is one controversy in the contemporary food industry, that’s lab-grown meat. The critics are harsh and the fans are enamored. Also called cultured meat, this lab product has lovers and haters. 

The industry has been ridiculed for ages, but a new year might bring a new perspective. Innovative companies are launching in the field with all their researchers, game changers, and scientists. 

So, what is lab-grown meat about? 

The pros

What do the lovers love?

Health

Since cultured meat is produced in a sterile environment, you don’t need to worry about bacteria. The exposure to dangerous chemicals lessens and so does the use of pesticides and fungicides. The growers don’t use antibiotics, opposite to farmed animals. 

Since there is no outbreak risk, researchers and scientists don’t have to use vaccinations against the influenza. In the lab, it’s easier to control the meat’s composition. For example, they can adjust fat composites. 

The animal’s cells don’t have the same chance to encounter pathogens, like Salmonella. Lab-grown meat reduces the risk of food-borne illnesses, for both the meat and the foodie. 

Ethical

With lab-grown meat there is no need to slaughter an animal. The Guardian reports that the chicken bites produced by the US company Eat Just have recently received approval by the Singapore Food Agency. 

“The cells used to start the process came from a cell bank and did not require the slaughter of a chicken because cells can be taken from biopsies of live animals, “ the English newspaper wrote, “The nutrients supplied to the growing cells were all from plants.” 

These are cruelty-free products, a step towards an equal relationship between men and animals. 

Sustainability

Cultured meat is eco-friendly. The Israeli startup SuperMeat produces cultured chicken with “less water, resources, and energy to produce. Vast acres of land will be saved as production scales up vertically.” 

The world demand for meat is increasing and farmers confront a challenge. They have to raise animals while the available land decreases. Lab-grown meat doesn’t need any land nor does it need too many natural resources. 

The Oxford and the University of Amsterdam teamed up for a research, comparing livestock industry and lab-grown meat. Their study revealed that cultured meat generates only 4% greenhouse gas emissions and it reduces the energy needs by 45%. Finally, it requires only 2% of land, compared to the meat business. 

Cons

What do haters hate?

Jobs controversy

As cultured meat becomes more popular and feasible, where are the livestock industry jobs going? 

Farmers are worried about losing their jobs and livelihoods. They will need to reimagine their production and their work. However, they might not be able to afford the change. People who are at the bottom of the meat industry might not have the means to compete with corporations. 

On the other hand, cultured meat companies like SuperMeat create opportunities. They do in the lab and outside of it. For example, the Israeli startup serves its chicken at The Chicken restaurant in Tel Aviv. Diners can taste the cultured chicken burger for free as it’s a testing ground from the startup’s work. The food is manufactured under the same roof where it’s served. 

“The launch of The Chicken is an important step toward a world where cultured meat is accessible to everyone,” said the SuperMeat CEO Ido Savir. 

The regulations

Since lab-grown meat is such a new industry, there is a monopoly risk. The regulations and patents are still uncharted territory. People are worried that a few companies will take control of the field, effectively creating a monopoly. 

Regulators still haven’t put their minds into antitrust laws and patents. Research for lab-grown meat can be expensive and startups can have a disadvantage. 

That’s why SuperMeat partnered up with Europe’s largest poultry producers, PHW-Gruppe. The business relationship led to improved manufacture. They’ve reduced the amount of production to two weeks and they hope to reduce the cost of meat per pound, bringing it down to $10 by 2022. 

Partnerships like this ensure that dedicated startups and researchers are able to fight against big corporations. It’s the innovators such as SuperMeat that can make a true difference.  


The future of lab-grown meat

What’s next for cultured meat?

The industry is growing. Its biggest challenge is to meet the market’s demand. As vegetarian and vegan diets become more popular, lab-grown meat turns into a valuable alternative. A few statistics can give an idea of the global trends. Meat consumption is expected to raise 73% by 2050 and cultured beef (which is 100% natural beef) can be the best option. 

The SuperMeat startup is aiming to reduce even more its production time, to make sure the shelves are always stocked. Another goal is to reduce costs, to make sure lab-grown meat is more accessible. 

As new businesses enter the game, the cultured meat market is expected to grow by 16 % by 2032. It might seem like a tiny growth, but for a new field, it’s an impressive number. 

More and more companies are releasing edible products to the public. Burgers are joining the shelves and chicken bites are on the restaurant’s menus. People are tasting this lab meat and they are learning about its benefits. 

In business, cultured meat has been minimized by competitors and skeptics. But the lovers are growing day by day. This might be the future of meat eating. 






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