The meat industry and its use of animals is the world’s most inefficient industry. Humanity’s ever-increasing desire for meat and the billions of animals needed to feed our hunger comes at a huge environmental cost. One billion cattle beef cows are used to meet demand.
The global cultured meat market accounted for $72.6 million in 2018 and is expected to reach $291.4 million by 2027, growing at 16.7 percent per year, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com.
David Kay, director of communications for Memphis Meats, a U.S.-based food technology company. said,
“Recently, we’ve seen a major trend toward consumers’ interest in how food is brought to their table, and food’s impact on themselves, their community and the planet,”
“Research indicates that roughly two-thirds of Americans would eat cell-based meat, and the more familiar people become with this innovation, the more enthusiastic they become.”
Market Gets Boost During COVID-19
Despite the rising popularity of cultured meat products, the market still pales in comparison to demand processed meat, estimated at $519 billion in 2019, according to Fortune Business Insights. In the U.S., the revenue of the top 100 meat and poultry processors totaled nearly $228 billion in 2018, per the National Provisioner.
Proponents of cultured meat believe the sector will become popular with visibility.
Among those at the forefront of investment in cultured meats is Saudi Arabia’s Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, the founder-CEO of KBW Ventures. To date, KBW Ventures has invested in four cellular agriculture companies across seven rounds in total, including Memphis Meats and BlueNalu, a California-based company that recently closed a $60 million financing deal that will allow it to take their first product — lab-grown Mahi Mahi — to market by the end of 2021.
In an interview, Khaled told,
“The science and the demand are finally catching up to one another, and it’s going to be a tipping point in the way we source protein for the world. In five years, I see the lab-grown everything industry as highly lucrative and thriving on an explosion in demand.”
Cell-based beef is also hormone, antibiotic and microplastic-free, which makes it better for the environment.
World meat production increased by 1.0% to 327 Mt in 2018, reflecting increases in the production of bovine, pig and poultry meats, with very modest gains in sheepmeat
The Good Food Institute’s 2018 State of the Industry report estimated that lab-grown beef reduces land use by more than 95%.
“People were thrown into shock by the pandemic. Suddenly, clean meat didn’t sound so futuristic after learning about the potential for zoonotic diseases to proliferate and eventually end up in the food chain,”
Despite the rise of lab-grown products as a source of meat, a number of problems remain.
Megan Rogalski, a meat, seafood and deli retail specialist at KeHe, a leading national wholesale food distributor, said,
“The biggest issue we hear from customers is the taste, texture and quality is not what they expect. However, once they try it, most consumers enjoy the product and feel better about what they are eating.”
Megan Rogalski, added,
“As for the lab-grown meats, consumers need more education and need to better understand the benefits of lab-grown meat before they are willing to try it.”
“The biggest challenge for the entire industry will be scaling a high-quality, low-cost product,”
Ugur Yilbasi is a Junior Research Fellow at European Institute of Policy Research and Human Rights. Ugur is a senior student at Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Istanbul Kültür University.