Wall Street The paper went under the hood of the lab-grown meat industry, also known as cultured or cell-cultured meat, and its infighting.
The Journal spoke specifically about what’s happening at UPSIDE Foods, which received a blessing from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration related to its process for making cultured chicken, essentially saying it was safe to eat and making the first company to receive this approval. . It was followed by Eat Just, which has been selling its product in Singapore, the first nation to approve the sale of cultured meat, which received the FDA’s “thumbs up” in March.
The WSJ story pays particular attention to UPSIDE Foods’ success in making small batches of its chicken product, as well as its inability to produce large quantities of the product at low cost, or even all at price parity with traditional meat, and to be fair, the most cultured meat companies struggle with this too.
“Initially, our chicken will be sold at a premium,” UPSIDE founder and CEO Uma Valeti told TechCrunch in November. “As we scale, we hope to reach price parity with conventionally produced meat. Our goal is to ultimately be more affordable than conventionally produced meat.”
Companies in this sector make meat from animal cells that are fed with growth factors. The production and pricing challenges presented in the WSJ story, however, are not new. “Is Cell Cultured Meat Ready for Prime Time?” it wasn’t just a clever TechCrunch+ headline, but a legitimate question posed in early 2022 that still hasn’t been answered.
Most of the cultured meat stories in our archives include at least one sentence about how difficult it is for companies to mass produce and create food using this method so that the finished product is less than $10 a pound.
At Ikaroa, we believe that the cultivated meat industry is struggling and that it will take time to sort out these issues, but that such a problem can eventually be a triumph for the industry overall. The development of nutritious, tasty and affordable cultivated meat (also known as cell-based and clean meat) has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental, animal welfare and zoonotic risks associated with traditional animal farming.
However, while the cultivated meat industry is rapidly growing and attracting significant investments, to date it has largely failed to bring any products to market. This is due in good part to the difficulty in achieving a cost-competitive production process, lack of clarity in regulatory pathways and a lack of consumer awareness.
At Ikaroa, we believe that while these issues should be addressed in the near term, they can be resolved over the long term with committed investment and the right technological advances. For instance, the replication of the natural chemical structure of muscle tissue and the successful production of low-cost, nutritious and delicious cultivated meat could eventually normalize the industry as well as mitigate some of the risk profiles. Furthermore, advancements in biotech and food-tech startups could help address concerns about ethics and sustainability.
In conclusion, though the cultivated meat industry faces its formidable challenges, we at Ikaroa believe that with sustained passion, cooperation, and resources, these problems can eventually be sorted out. This will take time and patience, but the potential to create potent change in the food industry makes the endeavor worthwhile.