Although not yet popular, lab-grown meat is fast becoming a real alternative to its farm-grown counterpart as billionaire entrepreneurs and industry heavyweights invest into start-ups from across the nascent field of “cellular agriculture”. Produced via stem cells derived from cows, pigs, fish, or sheep, the emerging clean meat industry has the potential to transform the global food market and create a new trillion dollar industry in the process.
The cultured meat industry has several powerful backers, including Bill Gates, Richard Branson. These businessmen threw their weight, and $17 million, behind a small U.S. company that is using stem cells from animals to produce novel meat products.
Specifically, Gates and Branson joined with Tyson Foods, DFJ, Atomico, and Cargill to invest in the Silicon Valley start-up Memphis Meats. The company produces beef, chicken, and duck directly from animal stem cells gown in the lab. The start-up company rose to fame when it produced the world’s first lab-grown meatballs made by cultivating cow muscle tissue within a sterile environment.
Other start-ups in the field are Netherlands-based MosaMeat, Brooklyn-based Modern Meadow, Tel Aviv-based SuperMeat, New York-based Finless Foods, and the Dutch company Meatable, to name a few market leaders. In 2017, China signed a $300 million deal to buy lab grown meat produced in Israel in a deal that signaled its desire to jump on the “clean meat” bandwagon.
Another notable name in the field of clean meat investing is Dr. Rick Klausner. Dr. Klausneris one of the lead investors in the Dutch company Meatable. He is well-known as the former director of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and former Executive Director of Global Health for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Meatable Snags $60 Million for Stem Cell Derived Meat Products
Headquartered in Delft, Netherlands, Meatable is an innovative startup company that is leveraging porcine and bovine induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to create lab-grown meat products. Yesterday (March 23, 2021) the company announced it had closed an impressive $47 million Series A round. This brings Meatable’s total funding to date to an astonishing $60 million.
These funds are being used to advance small-scale production of its synthetic meat products at its Biotech Campus in Delft, Netherlands. The funds will also be used to diversify Meatable’s portfolio into beef products.
As stated by the company, “Meatable’s proprietary platform technology enables a fundamentally more cost effective and scalable production process. It replicates the natural process of fat and muscle growth, in proportions that emulate traditional cuts of meat. The entire process, when fully developed, is expected to take only weeks to produce meat, whereas it takes years to grow a live animal.”
Market Demand for iPSC-Derived “Clean Meat”
By 2040, a projected 60% of the meat we eat will be created from muscle cells grown within laboratory bioreactors. These products will be sold in grocery stories under names such as cultured meat, clean meat, lab-grown meat, and potentially, meat produced via cellular agriculture.
The rise of the cultured meat market will be supported by the sustainability of the process and the nascent industry’s ability to provide “tailor-made nutrition” through its meat products. Investors are piling into the field of cultured meat, allowing start-up companies within this sector to raise more than $150 million in funding since 2015. Over the next 10 to 20 years, the cultured meat has the potential to act as a major disruptor to the conventional meat industry.
While the business case for cultured meat is strong, some consumers do not yet like the idea of eating meat grown within a laboratory. Nonetheless, recent surveys indicate that nearly 50% of the consumers do not have any reservation in using cultured meat. This number will undoubtedly grow as cultured meat products become mainstream, get featured in marketing campaigns, and demonstrate both environmental and nutritional advantages.
Leveraging iPSC Technology for Clean Meat Production
Since the discovery and development of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology a decade ago, significant progress has been made in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. In the past few years, iPSCs have been extensively used for disease modeling, drug discovery, and cell therapy development. Now, scientists are exploring the transformative use of these cells within the field of cellular agriculture, with iPSC technology allowing for the unprecedented production of meat products at an industrial scale.
Numerous start-up companies are likely to be launched in the coming years. While there were only four companies operating in this space in 2016, there are now more than 30 companies competing to be first to market by securing regulatory approvals. The trend is likely to continue, with more companies getting involved in the race to bring cultured meats to market.
Table. Leading Competitors in Cultured Meat Production
|Company||Year Founded||Technology Description|
|Aleph Farms, Israel||2017||Stem cell culture (iPSCs)|
|Appleton Meats, BC, Canada||2018||Bovine cell culture|
|Balletic Foods, CA, U.S.||2017||Stem cells from muscle tissue|
|BlueNalu, CA, U.S.||2018||Marine animal cells|
|Finless Foods, CA, U.S.||2017||Marine animal cells|
|Future Meat, Israel||2018||Stem cell culture|
|HigherSteaks, U.K.||2017||Stem cell culture (iPSCs)|
|Integriculture/Shojinmeat, Japan||2014||Cultured muscle cells|
|Kiran Meats, CA, U.S.||2018||Animal cell culture|
|Meatable, Delft, Netherlands||2018||Stem cell culture (iPSCs)|
|Memphis Meats, CA, U.S.||2015||Animal cell culture|
|Mission Barns, CA, U.S.||2018||Animal cell culture|
|Modern Meadow, NJ, U.S.||2011||Cultured muscle cells|
|Musa Meat, The Netherlands||2013||Stem cells from muscle tissue|
|New Age Meats, CA, U.S.||2018||Pork cell culture|
|Seafuture, AL, Canada||2017||Stem cells from fish|
|Supermeat, Israel||2015||Chicken stem cells|
|Wild Type, CA, U.S.||2016||Animal cell culture|
By the end of this decade, clean meat is positioned to become a viable alternative to the conventional meat industry. With a global population of nearly 8 billion, the meat industry has struggled to keep pace with population growth, making it unusually ripe for disruption.
What will this mean for companies specializing in the industrial-scale production of iPSCs, such as FUJIFILM CDI, Treefrog Therapeutics, Rheincell Therapeutics, and Cynata Therapeutics? Most likely, it will mean new channels for iPSC product development, partnering, and co-commercialization.
The Global Market for Lab-Grown Meat
Currently, the lab-grown chicken meat from Memphis Meats costs about $6,000 per pound. The company MosaMeat valued its artificial beef patty at $330,000 in 2013, but industry watchers expect the price to be around $10 when production reaches scale using current technology.
The first FDA-approved cultured meat is expected to be launched in 2023 and the global market is predicted to be approximately $18.3 million in 2023, with a potential to display exponential growth by 2030.
Don’t be left behind by the tidal wave that the cultured meat revolution represents.
To learn more about this rapidly evolving segment of the iPSC marketplace, view the “Global Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Industry Report 2021.”
What are your thoughts on the clean meat industry? Leave them in comments below.