Memphis Meats' lab-produced meatballs
There is a frustrating, 'jam tomorrow' aspect to all the talk around cell-based meat.
Perhaps it is the tantalising prospect of what might be achieved by the men and women in labs and what it might mean for the future of food that makes us keep asking the question of when we will see something more than a prototype of meat created without harming animals.
But the answer always seem to be that we are a couple of years away.
However, there do seem to be signs of progress. Specifically, costs associated with the process, previously sky high, do seem to be coming down.
It should be remembered that it was back in 2013 when Mosa Meat of the Netherlands created the world's first lab-grown burger at the eye-watering cost of EUR250,000 (US$295,594 at today's conversion rate).
Here we are seven years later and the products are still in the lab, seemingly a long way from supermarket shelves.
On the face of it, even for a layman, what is being done in those labs is relatively easy to understand.
Stem cells are taken from the muscle of an animal and added to a nutrient rich-solution called cell culture medium typically containing vitamins, sugars and proteins and left to multiply, or fatten, to create meat.
The environmental and animal-welfare benefits of this process succeeding has meant the nascent industry has enjoyed more media attention and investment dollars than many other areas of food product development, with the exception of plant-based meat alternatives, also known as alt-protein.
But, as was demonstrated seven years ago, the central issue facing the industry is no longer proof of concept. It can be done, even with trickier marbled cuts of meat such as steak, but can it be done at scale and at an affordable cost?
Some investors think so as they continue to back cell-based meat companies, enticed by the prospect of getting in early to a development offering so much promise on paper (and lab desk).
In January, Memphis Meats of the US secured US$161m in new funding with meat giant Tyson Foods once again among the consortium of investors.
The California-based company said in January it will use the funds to build a pilot production plant, expand its team and to "hit a major milestone of launching products into the market". However, it has not set an actual launch date.
David Kay, Memphis Meats' senior manager of communications and operations, tells just-food the company needs to develop additional infrastructure for production, with a pilot production facility a key element.
"The focus is on reducing the cost of production and increasing production scale. On both of these issues, we have made very significant progress since we were founded in 2015," Kay insists.
Mosa Meat is still pushing hard to get a product ready to scale up. It too has attracted investment from established food companies. Last month, Switzerland's Bell Food Group agreed to put EUR5m in the Dutch business.
Beckie Calder-Flynn, Mosa Meat's operations co-ordinator, says: "We are aiming for a first market introduction in the next few years. It is very difficult to commit to a particular time frame because there are still some scientific unknowns and factors outside our control, such as the regulatory process.
"The first introduction will likely be small-scale. Several years beyond that, we aim to be widely available in supermarkets and restaurants."
The thorny issue of the cost of producing at scale is never far from the surface.
Calder-Flynn says: "As with any technology, initial prices tend to be extremely high until the product is commercialised, production is made efficient, and then products are sold en masse.
"For us, we are currently working on up-scaling our equipment so that we can produce large quantities quickly and efficiently. This hasn't been done before and is complex.
"We estimate that commercialisation will bring the price of a burger down to EUR9.00, compared with the EUR250,000 it cost to make the first burger. The cost of a hamburger in the supermarket is around EUR1.00 and we expect that with further efficiency improvements we will be able to bring the price down to this level over the next decade.
"Ultimately, cultured meat should be cheaper than conventional meat given its production is more efficient. One cell sample can create up to 10,000kg of cultured meat. Our estimates suggest that at that rate we would only need 150 cows to satisfy the world's current meat demand.
"The bottleneck currently is production efficiency and speed. It takes about ten weeks to make a [cell-based] hamburger, which is obviously not suitable for commercial production, but this doesn't mean we can't produce at industrial scale in the future. Because cell growth is exponential, it takes ten weeks to produce one quarter pound hamburger, but only about 12 weeks to produce 100,000 hamburgers."
Mosa Meat claimed another breakthrough on cost recently when the company announced it had achieved an 80x reduction in the cost of the growth medium or nutrient mix for its lab-grown meat.
Part of that transition is to move away from FBS (Fetal Bovine Serum), the standard growth medium used by the cell-based meat industry.
California-based New Age Meats is another business at the forefront of the cell-based charge. At the end of July, it secured $2m from investors just six months after raising $2.7m in seed funding from a consortium of backers.
The company said the new seed extension funding will help it to continue to develop cell-based pork products.
Specifically, New Age Meats plans to further expand its food science department, implement more automation and robotics and continue to attempt to reduce the cost of its first lab-produced product, a pork sausage.
Like its rivals, New Age Meats is now working towards building a pilot facility, scaling product development and production and getting its first foods to market.
Derin Alemli, director of operations and finance at the business, admitted development has slowed down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Covid has set the process back a little bit. We've been figuring out how to get back into the lab. We are at about 80% capacity now so we are making progress," he says.
Alemli believes the company's focus on pork gives it a distinct advantage. "Pigs are highly researched animals and there's a huge market for it. Our first product is a pork sausage because it's easier to use pork than a marbled product such as steak."
On the issue of cost, Alemli is optimistic about the future of lab-created products.
"The costs have come down dramatically to the $800-$1,000 a pound range," he says. "The equipment is expensive but that is a one-off cost. It's the media to feed the cells [that ratchets up costs]. "If we are not at the $15-$20 a pound range in the future that's tough sledding."
Also working hard to create lab-based meat is the French company Gourmey. The company is attempting to create a cruelty-free version of foie gras.
The French delicacy, which directly translates as "fat liver," is traditionally made out of the liver of a duck or goose which has been force-fed or over-fed.
Company co-founder and CEO Nicolas Morin-Forest tells just-food Gourmey is building a "versatile platform" around duck stem cells.
"With our cells' ability to specialise into any cell type, including muscle cells, we will also bring more complex cuts of meat at some point once the scaffold-based cultured meat technologies will have matured," he says.
Morin-Forest will not commit to a specific launch date at this stage.
"We are currently working on a lab-scale foie gras prototype and will showcase it in the next months," he says.
Jack Bobo, the CEO of Futurity, a Washington DC-based "food foresight company that helps brands get ahead of trends," is someone who has kept a close eye on developments in the cell-based area.
In terms of timescale for scaling up production, he says: "Some of the companies have got a very aggressive timeline. Others say they are some way off from commercialisation. Certainly there is some hype around businesses trying to get exposure to the media and investors. Companies with adequate funding are a lot less aggressive in what they are saying."
Bobo, a former special adviser on food policy at the US Department of State, suggests there are "some real technical issues that companies are still tackling".
He also thinks they can be communicating their message better. "I have talked privately to some of these companies and I told them to drop the term 'clean meat'. If I was running a company I would not want to be sitting down with a journalist and talking about safety and ethics.
"It's highly offensive to livestock producers and ended up with 28 states trying to stop them using the term meat. It was a self-inflicted wound. If you are getting close to market you need to communicate to the market better."
Of course, getting that product to market depends on regulatory approval and success ultimately depends retailers and consumers wanting to eat cell-based meat.
On the regulatory front, the US seems further ahead than Europe.
In March 2019, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced they'd established a framework for regulating cell-based meat and poultry.
The USDA will oversee food processing, labelling and distribution and the FDA will conduct inspections and safety checks. Within the European Union, food produced from cell culture or tissue culture derived from animals falls within the scope of the EU Novel Foods Regulation. There are those in cell-based meat space that see the US as having made more progress on the regulation of the fledgling sectorthan the EU, with some entrepreneurs wanting more engagement from Brussels and asking whether its process needs to take the time it does. The EU's Novel Foods Regulation takes up to two years in practice to go through.
Getting retailers and consumers on board is, of course, then also key once any approval is handed down.
Kay at Memphis Meats is confident in this regard. He says: "Research suggests that roughly two-thirds of Americans would eat cell-based meat, and that the more consumers learn about our products, the more enthusiastic they become.
"We are anticipating a lot of excitement from consumers, and we've already heard from many major retailers and restaurant chains that are interested in our work."
Calder-Flynn at Mosa Meat agrees. "We receive emails every day from people all around the world who are excited and passionate about cultured meat and the vast majority of responses we get about our work are extremely positive. People are wanting to eat healthier, more sustainable, and animal-friendly meat and they strongly believe cultured meat can offer that."
Alemli at New Age Meats says the research it has seen and done shows there will be early adopters if it is at the right cost. "The rise in alt-protein is good for us."
He suggest ethics and a post-Covid focus on safety will also come into play. "The inside of a slaughterhouse is not an appetising place. Our environment is very sanitary. It is safer, better for the environment."
When considering when such products will see the light of day, could the answer be in hybrid products, linking animal cells and plant-based ingredients?
Alemli at New Age Meats says his company's sausage is "more of a hybrid product", adding: "I think hybrid is a way of getting consumers ready for it and getting to market at a quite reasonable cost."
A company developing hybrid products is none other than KFC, the global fast-food chicken giant.
In July, KFC announced it had joined forces with Russian firm 3D Bioprinting Solutions, which is developing additive bioprinting technology that uses a recipe of chicken cells and plant ingredients. The resulting product is likely to be trialled in Russia.
What the move demonstrates is even mainstream majors are starting to think about the concept of cell-based meat and how it can benefit their businesses.
And while they can be accused of many things, being slow to market isn't one of them.
Read the original:
- The Top 10 Biotech Companies Brewing at... - Labiotech.eu - September 18th, 2020
- CRISPR Market to Witness Exponential Growth by 2020-2027 | Leading Players Thermo Fisher Scientific, Editas Medicine, Caribou Biosciences, CRISPR... - September 18th, 2020
- Case 29-2020: A 66-Year-Old Man with Fever and Shortness of Breath after Liver Transplantation - nejm.org - September 18th, 2020
- Frequency Therapeutics Presents Results Demonstrating Sustained Improvement in Hearing Loss Patients Treated with FX-322 - Business Wire - September 18th, 2020
- Faulty exon splicing is cause of rare subtype of Parkinson's disease, pointing to new drug targets - BioWorld Online - September 15th, 2020
- Treating dogs diagnosed with GBM, getting Swedish patients back to work, orphan designation for improved radiotherapy drug plus gene therapy - Brain... - September 13th, 2020
- Histogen Announces Completion of Dosing Milestone in its 1b/2a Trial for Androgenic Alopecia in Men - StreetInsider.com - September 13th, 2020
- BeyondSpring (BYSI) Receives Breakthrough Therapy Designations from Both US FDA and China NMPA for Plinabulin in Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia... - September 8th, 2020
- Hematopoietic Stem Cells (HSCs) Market 2020: Potential Growth, Challenges, and Know the Impact of COVID-19 on Industry | Key Players: Kite Pharma... - September 8th, 2020
- Stem Cell Therapy Market Scope and Opportunities Analysis 2017 2025 - StartupNG - August 31st, 2020
- Im Optimistic That We Will Have a COVID-19 Vaccine Soon - The Atlantic - August 31st, 2020
- Health insurance with maternity cover: All you need to know about features and inclusions - CNBCTV18 - August 31st, 2020
- Emerging Treatment Options of Regenerative Medicine in Severe Corona Virus/COVID 19 Infections - DocWire News - August 31st, 2020
- MaaT Pharma Announces Positive Data for Its Lead Microbiome Biotherapeutic MaaT013 in Intestinal Acute Graft-versus-Host-Disease at the Virtual 46th... - August 31st, 2020
- Exosome Therapeutic Market 2020-2026 is Growing So Rapidly || Leading Players THERAPEUTICS, EXOCOBIO, Exopharm, AEGLE Therapeutics, United... - August 20th, 2020
- Inside the race to ditch formula and grow breast milk in the lab - Wired.co.uk - August 20th, 2020
- Animal Stem Cell Therapy Market: Rising Demand and Growth Opportunity - Owned - August 20th, 2020
- Health Spotlight: Have You Heard Of Dr. Jeffrey Tucker? - LATF USA - August 20th, 2020
- Viruses have big impacts on ecology and evolution as well as human health - The Economist - August 20th, 2020
- Merck's KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in Combination With Chemotherapy Significantly Improved Overall Survival and Progression-Free Survival Compared With... - August 20th, 2020
- Umbilical cord blood banking: Is it worth it? - mtltimes.ca - August 19th, 2020
- G1 Therapeutics Announces Acceptance and Priority Review of NDA for Trilaciclib for Patients with Small Cell Lung Cancer - GlobeNewswire - August 19th, 2020
- What do we need to know about our bone health during this pandemic - Times of India - August 19th, 2020
- Researcher John Craig Venter Is Awarded the 2020 Edogawa-NICHE Prize for His Accomplishment in Human Genome Research - Business Wire India - August 19th, 2020
- Cellect Biotechnology Ltd ADR (NASDAQ:APOP) Receives an Approval of a Pivotal Patent for Stem Cells Activation from the European Patent Office - BP... - August 13th, 2020
- A rapid, sensitive, and reproducible in vivo PBMC humanized murine model for determining therapeuticrelated cytokine release syndrome - Wiley - August 13th, 2020
- Autologous Stem Cell Based Therapies Industry Market 2020 Explain What is the current size of the market? And key players analysis: Athersys,... - August 13th, 2020
- Dr. Park on the Benefits of Off-the-Shelf CAR T-Cell Therapy in ALL - OncLive - August 11th, 2020
- CELLECTAR BIOSCIENCES : Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (form 10-Q) - marketscreener.com - August 11th, 2020
- Trumps Unprecedented Attacks on Our Public-Health System - The New Yorker - August 11th, 2020
- New Report: Regenerative Medicine & Advanced Therapies Sector Thriving Despite COVID-19 - PharmiWeb.com - August 11th, 2020
- The NIU BODY Rebrand: millennials have grown up and so has their skin care - CosmeticsDesign.com USA - August 11th, 2020
- Embryos could be susceptible to COVID-19 from second week of pregnancy - Gulf News - August 9th, 2020
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Latest News and Analysis - The New York Times - August 9th, 2020
- How to live longer: The health drink that reduces risk of Alzheimers and boosts longevity - Express - August 9th, 2020
- The global cell and gene therapy market by revenue is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 30.90% during the period 20192025 - GlobeNewswire - August 5th, 2020
- Research Report on Cell Theraputics Market by Current Industry Status, Growth Opportunities, Top Key Players, and Forecast to 2025 - AlgosOnline - August 5th, 2020
- Pediatrics in Brevard: Nothing beats the benefits of breastmilk for newborns - Florida Today - August 5th, 2020
- How can nanomedicine be applied to cannabis? - Leafly - August 5th, 2020
- Cell Expansion Market Analytical Overview, Growth Factors, Demand, Trends and Forecast to 2027 - CueReport - August 5th, 2020
- FDA hands MorphoSys and Incyte a quick OK on their potential blockbuster CAR-T alternative - Endpoints News - August 5th, 2020
- Fighting for a life unlimited with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust - Health Europa - August 5th, 2020
- World Breastfeeding Week 2020: The Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mother And Baby - News18 - August 5th, 2020
- Stem Cells Cryopreservation Equipments Market to grow significantly in future | Worthington Industries,Cesca Therapeutics,Shengjie Cryogenic Equipment... - August 3rd, 2020
- Stem Cell Therapy Market Latest Trends, Development, Revenue, Demand And Forecast To 2022 - Market Research Correspondent - August 3rd, 2020
- Global trade impact of the Coronavirus Synthetic Stem Cells Market Report 2020-2026 Research Insights 2020 Global Industry Outlook Shared in Detailed... - July 30th, 2020
- World's First Plant and Cell Based Bacon and Pork Belly - One Green Planet - July 30th, 2020
- FDA Approves New CAR-T Therapy for Mantle Cell Lymphoma - Cancer Health Treatment News - July 26th, 2020
- Of mice and SARS-CoV-2 - The Hindu - July 26th, 2020
- Ruxolitinib passes another PhIII test for graft-versus-host disease, a win for Incyte and Novartis - Endpoints News - July 24th, 2020
- Study finds the real reason you get goosebumps - Big Think - July 24th, 2020
- Harvard study finds that stem cell stimulation gives us goosebumps - New Atlas - July 24th, 2020
- Celltex Therapeutics Webinar | Houston, TX Patch - Patch.com - July 24th, 2020
- Bioreactors Market Forecast to 2027 Covid-19 Impact and Global Analysis by Product Class, Material, Cell ; Molecule ; Technology ; End User, and... - July 24th, 2020
- Association of TNF- Gene Expression and Release in Response to | DMSO - Dove Medical Press - July 24th, 2020
- 'Missing link': Bayer, Morningside help catapult a new kind of delivery tech to cell and gene therapy - Endpoints News - July 24th, 2020
- Regulation of advanced therapy medicinal products in the EU - Regulatory Focus - July 18th, 2020
- Coronavirus Drug and Treatment Tracker - The New York Times - July 18th, 2020
- UCSD Researchers Discover and Manipulate Different Aging Processes in Cells - Times of San Diego - July 18th, 2020
- Restorative therapies for erectile dysfunction: Where are we at in 2020? - Urology Times - July 18th, 2020
- Flow Cytometry Market Size Forecast to Reach $6.71 Billion by 2025 - Reported Times - July 18th, 2020
- Cryopreservation Equipments in Stem Cells Market Innovative Technology Growth, Business Strategies and Trend 2027 - Owned - July 16th, 2020
- Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products Market Break Down By Leading Companies, Countries, Applications, Challenges, Opportunities And Forecast 2020-2026... - July 16th, 2020
- Foodtech of the future post-COVID: Robot bartenders, insects and cannabis drinks - EU-Startups - July 14th, 2020
- 7 Benefits of Bee Pollen - What Are the Benefits of Bee Pollen - Prevention.com - July 14th, 2020
- Pancreatic cancer hides from the immune system by destroying the cell's danger signal - Massive Science - July 14th, 2020
- Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs) and Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs) Market 2020 Size By Product Types, End-Users, Regional Outlook, Growth Potential, Price... - July 10th, 2020
- Fate Therapeutics Announces FDA Clearance of IND Application for First-ever iPSC-derived CAR T-Cell Therapy - StreetInsider.com - July 10th, 2020
- Fasting is not starvation or a fad, it is a discipline: Luke Coutinho - The Indian Express - July 10th, 2020
- FDA Approves Talaris Therapeutics' IND for Its Allogeneic Cell Therapy FCR001 to Be Evaluated in Patients With a Severe Form of Scleroderma -... - July 10th, 2020
- Orchard Therapeutics and MolMed Announce Extension of Gene Therapy Manufacturing Collaboration - BioSpace - July 10th, 2020
- Blood factors transfer beneficial effects of exercise on neurogenesis and cognition to the aged brain - Science Magazine - July 10th, 2020
- Ziopharm Oncology Announces Initiation of Phase 1 Trial Evaluating Rapid Personalized Manufacturing CAR-T Technology in Patients with Relapsed CD19+... - July 10th, 2020
- Benefits of Ashwagandha tea and how to make it - TheHealthSite - July 10th, 2020
- Live Cell Imaging Market Poised for Steady Growth in the Future 2020-2024 - Jewish Life News - July 10th, 2020
- Hematopoietic Stem Cells Transplantation Market to Eyewitness Massive Growth by 2028: Leading Key Players Kite Pharma, Thermo Fisher Scientific,... - July 8th, 2020
- One common infection could kill our baby girl but one simple act could change her life forever - The Sun - July 8th, 2020
- Multidrug Combinations and CAR T-Cell Therapies for Heavily Pretreated Multiple Myeloma Shine at ASCO - Targeted Oncology - July 8th, 2020
- Vitamin P: Overview, Benefits, and More - Healthline - July 8th, 2020
- How COVID-19 Pandemic Will Impact Australia & New Zealand Research Antibodies Market Business Opportunity, And Growth 2020-2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 6th, 2020