By Lina Saigol and Callum Keown
Supplied by the company
From lab to plate? Cell-based meat might not get the taste buds salivating, but it has certainly whet the appetite of investors.
The race to move meat grown in laboratories onto supermarket shelves and onto dinner plates is heating up, as companies work in labs to cultivate cell-based meat and seafood — also known as “clean” or “cultured.”
Unlike plant-based meats, which have grown in popularity in the U.S. and around the world, cultured meat is a lab-grown meat alternative produced from animal cells.
However, cultured meat faces serious challenges with cost reduction, scale-up and regulatory approval, and no lab-grown meat product has yet reached the market, according to a new report by market research company IDTechEx.
Even if it does overcome these obstacles, getting consumers to bite is another hurdle. A recent study from the University of Sydney and Curtin University found that 72% of Generation Z — defined by the study as individuals born between 1995 and 2002 — wouldn’t be keen on eating lab-grown meat, despite the fact that it eliminates the need to slaughter animals.
Meanwhile, plant-based meat products are growing in popularity. Sales of alternative products have skyrocketed during the past few years and investments into the industry are surging. Just three months after going public last year, shares in Beyond Meat /zigman2/quotes/211617595/composite BYND -6.99% had increased by 500%.
Beyond Meat’s and rival Impossible Foods’ products are now available in fast-food restaurants across the U.S. In a recent KFC trial release in Atlanta, Ga., Beyond Meat’s fried chicken analogues sold out in less than 5 hours.
Here are five companies identified by IDTechEX to be leading the cultured meat revolution.
Mosa Meat was founded in 2013 by Dr. Mark Post of Maastricht University, who that same year cooked and tasted the world’s first cell-cultured hamburger in London.
The first hamburger, which was produced from bovine muscle cells grown in the lab and was funded by Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +0.73% co-founder Sergey Brin, cost €250,000 to make. Mosa Meat now projects that it can grow a “beef” patty for around €9 ($10.62).
In September, the startup announced the first closing of $55 million as part of a larger Series B funding round, led by Luxembourg-based food technology fund Blue Horizon Ventures. It joins existing investors Switzerland’s Bell Food Group , and M Ventures, the venture capital arm of German drugmaker Merck KGaA /zigman2/quotes/206962101/composite MKKGY +1.37% .
The company is focused on scaling up the production process, and getting its first products on the market in the next three to four years.
This Berkeley, Calif.-based startup was founded by cardiologist Dr. Uma Valeti and cell biologist Dr. Nicholas Genovese in 2015. Like Mosa Meat, Memphis Meats uses myosatellite cells to grow meat products, and has produced cultured chicken nuggets and beef meatballs, as well as duck tissue.