How far is cellular meat from the table?

Recently, there have been a series of big news in the cellular meat industry: an Australian team has “resurrected” mammoth meatballs, and the United States has approved a new culture of cellular meat to go to the dinner table. The road to the industrialization of cellular meat may seem long, but it seems to be within reach. What is the extent of the development of this field in the end? Let’s try to do some dismantling. 
1. How much room for imagination is there for cell-cultured meat as an industry?
As early as 1931, Churchill proposed that “we shall no longer be foolish enough to raise a chicken for a breast or a wing. We can culture each of these parts in a suitable medium.” Churchill may have been the first to publicize the idea of “cellular meat”. In practice, cellular meat is “real meat” produced by placing animal “seed cells” in a bioreactor with a culture solution.
The good news is that cellular meat is now available in Singapore and the United States; but eating it does not mean making a profit, let alone industrializing it. The industrialization of cellular meat has raced ahead faster than imagined, but it may still take time – in 2013, the Dutch team at Mosa Meats broadcast a taste test of cultured hamburger meat in London, the first time in the world it had ever done so. However, it was a piece of meat costing $330,000 that was “eaten on air”, which is still a long way from the dinner table.
In 2019, the Singaporean government issued a marketing and sales license to Eat Just, a cellular meat company based in San Francisco, USA. In March this year, the Global Times reporter in Singapore went to Singapore to “explore” Hu Beier meat store, each string price of 5.5 Singapore dollars (about 28 yuan), the article that the store is expected to 2030 to make a profit. In addition, according to interface news reports, the U.S. cellular meat company Good Meat’s products successfully entered the head of Singapore’s meat production and supply platform Huber’s Butchery, has been in Singapore in various areas of the menu can be found everywhere, from the online delivery platform to the offline restaurant, hawker stalls and other different consumer channels full coverage, the products include crunchy strips, curry, kebabs and salads, as well as burgers, etc.. The products include crispy sticks, curries, kebabs and salads as well as burgers.
This year, Good Meat has even thrown a bombshell into the cell-cultured meat space, with its cell-cultured chicken products receiving approval and endorsement from the US FDA and Department of Agriculture, making it the second company in the world to have its products approved for marketing. As in Singapore, in the just-approved stage, the cellular meat can only be sold in select restaurants, and Good Meat will be serving their dishes at a restaurant run by chef José Andrés in Washington, D.C. The company will also be offering its products in the U.S., where they are available for sale. And the first cellular meat company to be approved in the U.S. was Upside Foods, in partnership with Bar Crenn restaurant in San Francisco.
If the above description is just a single point of explosion, then the C-end consumers may not see the industrial end, cellular meat has been “surging”. At present, there are already more than 100 cellular meat companies around the world. Products from a single hamburger meat, expanding to eggs, milk, cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks, fish, etc., and the company map from Europe and the United States to nearly 20 countries around the world. It is worth paying attention to: the world’s second largest chicken producer, the fifth largest beef producer, the first major fishing company, the well-known frozen food companies, as well as the world-renowned Nestlé, are “engaged” in cellular meat! In Asia, in addition to Singapore, South Korea and Thailand also have giant food companies working with cellular meat companies.
Since 2016, the cell-cultured meat industry has been soaring year after year, both in terms of the number of investment and financing events and the size of the amount: in 2021, the industry’s investor base grew by 62% to 458 independent investors, attracting a cumulative investment of nearly $2 billion. The largest of these investments amounted to $400 million, and has already resulted in exits and multiple mergers and acquisitions.
2. Why is cellular meat, which is still far from scale, worth paying attention to?
Investors and industry together with money to the cellular meat “vote” for complex reasons, but in a nutshell, this is likely to be a road to the future of human food. It seems that eating meat all the time is becoming a normal part of modern life. According to a money-saving tip from a B-site uploader, $10 will cover a meal of chicken thighs for 2 people. Yet there are challenges behind these seemingly rarefied qualities of life.
On the one hand, people’s demand for meat is growing too fast. According to statistics, per capita consumption of meat in recent years has been about 95 pounds per year, an increase of 44 pounds from 1961, or roughly a nearly 50% increase in the past 50 years. This figure is still growing, and Chinese protein consumption is expected to increase by 3-4% per year. On the other hand, in addition to the demand created by the rising quality of life, there are many people who can’t afford to eat meat – and yes, there is still a large gap in human demand for meat. For one thing, the needs of the existing population have not been met. There are still 1.2 billion people in absolute poverty globally, and their demand for meat products is far from being met.
In April 2022, the United Nations Food Program to the global advice: unprecedented hunger crisis is spreading around the world. Climate shocks, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the new crown epidemic, and the rising cost of food and fuel have created a series of knock-on effects that could lead to at least 47 million people in 81 countries on the brink of famine. Second, the population is still growing, and more people may not be able to eat meat in the future. Despite the worrying birth rate, the total global population is currently increasing. United Nations figures still predict a world population of 9.6 billion in 2050, which means a 61% increase in food production needs, and a rise in meat protein vacancies. People want more and more meat, and more and more people want to eat meat. Moreover, human beings want more universal meat, quality and inexpensive meat. It is still quite a challenge for the livestock industry alone to meet such a continuously growing demand. Cellular meat may be a solution, but it’s still expensive and has a way to go.
The good news, however, is that while demand for human meat is exploding, the cost of cellular meat is falling rapidly. In the past 10 years, the cost of cellular meat has been reduced 100,000-fold, and some experts predict that by 2030 it will be down to the level of real meat, with the cost of cultured beef expected to drop to $5.66 per kilogram (about $37). This means that seven years later, the price of cellular beef will be the same as the market price. In fact at current trends, the odds are that the time will only be shorter.
3. . The three gates to scale: consumer, policy, cost
However, no matter how big the imagination is, cellular meat is still a long way from being scaled up, and the key is to see if you can get through the triple gates: consumer acceptance, policy leniency, and the ability to really bring costs down through technology.
A policy
At present, China, the United States, Singapore, Europe, Israel and other countries are open to cellular meat. Of these, Singapore and the United States already have regulatory access. The only country explicitly opposed to cellular meat is Italy, on the grounds of protecting the Italian food industry from “harmful” technology.
B Consumer Acceptance
Consumer research around cellular meat over the past year or two has been generally positive. Acceptance of cellular meat is particularly high among the younger generation. While there are still many people who have difficulty accepting this unnaturally grown food for various religious, cognitive, and other reasons, there is an acceptance process for any technological invention, and this is true in the food world as well. Over the centuries, human food has continued to grow in abundance. Carrots have been introduced to China since the Han Dynasty; corn was not introduced to China from Mexico until the Qing Dynasty; and people 100 years ago would have been surprised if they saw the watermelons of today.
C Cost of Production
In the past 10 years, the cost of cellular meat has been reduced 100,000-fold, with some experts predicting that it is expected to drop to the level of real meat by 2030, and that the cost of beef-cultured meat is expected to drop to US$5.66 (about 37 RMB) per kilogram. But even so, the core challenge for cell-cultured meat is “cost reduction”. Technology will bring more possibilities for the future, including richer food, better ways for people to live with society and animals, and more room for imagination. In the face of the starry sea of the future journey, Cao Zhehou once said: “If we really want to go to Mars in the future, then Musk to solve the transportation, while we solve the food problem, after all, we are likely not too easy to bring the cattle and sheep to Mars together.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top