The cultivated meat sector has the potential to mean big business. According to Polaris Market Research, the market size is expected to reach more than $352m by 2028, with a CAGR of 14.9% over the next seven years.
The sector made waves last December when the first cultivated meat product – Eat Just’s cell-based chicken ingredient – received regulatory approval in Singapore. Other products awaiting commercialisation include Finless Foods’ cultivated Bluefin tuna, Mosa Meat’s alt beef burger, and Aleph Farms’ lab-grown ribeye steak.
In the meantime, the category is expanding. FoodNavigator hears from entrepreneurs recently graduated from Big Idea Ventures’ New Protein Fund accelerator, who are looking beyond cows and fish for alt meat inspiration.
Underpinning all these start-ups is the desire to remove animals from the production of protein. Animal protein, representing a $1trn industry, accounts for one-third of the world’s calories.
US-based start-up Blue Ridge Bantam is homing in one what it describes as ‘America’s original source of protein’: turkey.
“It’s our mission to bring turkey into the cultured meat space because we understand the necessity to remove animals from the production of protein. Turkey alone accounts for $14bn [of the meat industry] and over the last 60 years, demand for meat has outpaced population growth,” CEO Carson Bone told delegates at Big Idea Ventures’ demo day.
The negative environmental impact of intensive meat production is widely acknowledged, however ‘people are still not wanting to give it up’, lamented Bone. The answer? Cultivated meat, he continued: “Cell-based technology is a logical fit. If the technologies can be scaled.”
Blue Ridge Bantam’s technology is founded on a scaleable scaffolding solution. It is also bio-based and edible.
“We have a clear differentiation when it comes to our scaffolding platform,” the CEO explained.
“We’re the only company out there that has a realistic approach to both scaleability and mimicry of real meat. Outside of scaffolding, several other areas of technology need to be scaled,” he added, citing growth media and bioreactors.
Aside from textured turkey meat, the start-up also sees potential in producing ground turkey meat and rendered fat – both of which could help it enter the market earlier.
In the short-term, Blue Ridge Bantam plans on ‘pushing wholesale’ with a focus on plant-based companies looking for cell-based products. “We see this as a large opportunity to push our fat and flavouring lines. We also see this as an entry way of generating early revenue streams, because in large part, plant-based companies are tyring to mimic meat. What better way to do this than with what gives meat its flavour?”
In the long-term, however, the start-up has eyes on the branded retail sector.
While Bone admitted its plan is ‘ambitious’, the start-up is ‘ready for that challenge’. “We believe that we are uniquely positioned to develop novel tech and bring it to market.”
Next steps include scaling its team, building a lab, and executing strategies for cell line and media development. “The time is now to develop this technology because we have the expertise, we have the traction, and we have the strategic backing of great partners.”
Cultured bull and lamb
Rather than produce its own products for retail, a Cambridge University spinoff is working on a solution for ‘anyone to produce their own cultured meats’.
That solution is called the ‘Renaissance Farm’, an end-to-end cultured meat manufacturing system that aim is to help overcome ‘high’ financial barriers for those looking to enter the cell-based meat space.
“It includes all raw materials (which are recurring costs), the hardware, such as bioreactors, as well as our software and cutting-edge bioprocesses – the critical recipes that bring it all together,” explained Clarisse Beurrier, co-founder of Animal Alternative Technologies.
The B2B company’s revenues will come from royalties associated with sales of meat produced by Renaissance Farms. “Our Renaissance Farms are a viable alternative to the factory farms of large food companies,” Beurrier continued.
The spinout will target big-name manufacturers such as Tyson Foods, as well as ‘governments keen to improve food security’, such as Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
From a sustainability standpoint, the co-founder is convinced Animal Alternative Technologies makes sense. “Our Renaissance Farms can reduce costs by 18% and reduce resource use and emissions by over 95%,” she told delegates at the Big Idea Ventures event.
“We can rapidly develop a variety of local cost meats, including structured meats like steak that have that perfect familiar taste and texture thanks to our world-leading technologies from Cambridge University.”
The start-up’s patented platform includes AI-driven software for efficiency, bioelectronic analytics, organs and chips for quality, and tissue engineering expertise demonstrated through the creation of 3D vascular tissue, we were told. “We also have novel bioreactor designs to enable large scale production.”
Beurrier believes the spinout is at an advantage, compared to vertically integrated B2C companies, because it can avoid ‘spending millions on CAPEX, retail, and developing each raw material and technology in-house’. Rather, the start-up claims to have ‘the best in class available’ to it.
“This enables us to focus only on bioprocess development scaleup – two critical obstacles to commercialising cultured meat.” The co-founder hopes to be the ‘first to market’ at ‘price parity’.
“Hence, with this strategy, we are going beyond the cultured meat industry and cutting into the $2trn global meat market, predicted to double by 2050.”
Animal Alternative Technologies is currently working on the ‘first cultivated bull and lamb’, which it expects to be ready this coming summer.
“We’re now raising $2.5m to build pilot scale prototypes of the Renaissance Farms, develop multiple meats, and secure customers.”