To some, clean meat - that is, meat grown in a lab – promises an almost panacea-like product that is identical to conventional meat but without the animal suffering, land use, greenhouse gas emissions or antibiotic use.
But challenges still lie ahead, and the biggest is arguably the need to scale up production so that a cultured burger no longer costs €300,000 – as per Mark Post’s original in vitro burger unveiled in Amsterdam five years ago – but an affordable price that can compete with conventional meat products.
At the Sustainable Food Summit in Amsterdam last week, FoodNavigator caught up with the co-founder of Israeli clean meat start-up Supermeat, Shir Friedman, who said that Supermeat has "a unique technology" that allows it to scale up the meat production “from day one”.
“We know from day one that our products are scalable. Instead of creating a product that might hit a wall eventually […] The technology allows us to make sure the products are fit for commercial scale,” she said.
Supermeat is working on developing mince meat and apart from what it describes as “a pain-free biopsy” at the start where it takes animal cells from a live animal without killing it, uses no other animal inputs in the process. Friedman, who herself has been a vegan for 13 years, believes this means it will be embraced by many vegans.
Supermeat recently closed a seed funding round of $4 million dollars, including investment from the PHW group, one of Europe’s biggest poultry companies.
Friedman said this means it will benefit from PHW’s “amazing knowledge” of the poultry market, allowing it to create products that fit consumers’ expectations and giving it easy market access.
“The fact that traditional meat players are backing clean meat start ups is amazing and goes to show that clean meat is not something going against the the meat industry but going hand in hand with it, offering a different way to produce the exact same product.”