Cultivated meat offers £2.1bn economy boost, claims start-up

By Oliver Morrison contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages-vasiliybudarin
Pic: GettyImages-vasiliybudarin

Related tags: cultivated meat

The cultivated meat sector could add £1.1 billion to £2.1 billion to the UK economy by 2030, predicts a new report commissioned by start-up Ivy Farm Technologies.

Researchers from Oxford Economics said hitting £2.1bn gross value added (GVA) contribution to UK GDP in 2030 would mean cultivated meat was singlehandedly accounting for 13% of the cash pumped into the UK’s economy by the agriculture sector.

The industry could also generate £266- £523 million in tax revenues in 2030 and support 9,200-16,500 jobs, the report claimed. The cultivated meat sector would account for roughly 12% of consumer demand for meat in 2030, it added.

The report made two big assumptions, however: that the UK regulator the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) approves the sale of cultivated meat in the UK by the end of next year; and that consumers will embrace a eat a product they’ve yet to see or try.

Oxford Economics said the forecasts were also based on the timing of regulatory approval and the speed of technology change which affects the timing at which products would become price competitive compared to meat produced through conventional farming.

“The global market for meat is huge and if cultivated meat can capture even 10% of the estimated $1 trillion annual volume, that clearly presents an immense opportunity,”​ the report said.

Ivy Farm commissioned the study to convince the government of the potential of products made with real meat – but with a fraction of the carbon footprint of traditionally farmed livestock.

Ivy Farm Technologies CEO Rich Dillon said: “This is the first time a definitive economic dataset has been calculated for the UK’s cultivated meat industry and we’re urging the government and the FSA to study the report carefully. If we don’t move quickly, countries like Singapore that have already approved cultivated meat for consumption will leave us in their wake.

"The environmental benefits of producing real meat without livestock farming are well understood, as are the animal welfare and human health advantages. And we know that consumers are ready to try it and buy it.

“Now we have the missing piece of the jigsaw that fills in the economic benefits to the UK. If we can release the handbrake and seize the ‘first mover’ advantage, the UK can become a powerhouse for alternative proteins, exporting our products and technology across the globe and reducing the UK’s reliance on imported meat.”

Oxford Economics Director of Economic Consulting, Henry Worthington, added: “Our analysis has highlighted the cultivated meats sector’s strong potential for growth within the UK and the substantial economic footprint that the market will support through the value chain.

“Strikingly, from whichever angle you look, the public policy rationale for regulatory approval of cultivated meat appears compelling, from “net zero” to the war against obesity to building a more research-intensive economy, this industry aligns seamlessly with stated government policy objectives.

“The industry may be in its infancy now, but it clearly presents significant opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and other commercial partners to exploit the global potential of a move away from conventional farming towards more sustainable methods.​”

The report noted various benefits to cultivated meat in addition to economic. Various studies, it said, have concluded that the overall environmental impacts of cultivated meat production were substantially lower than those of conventionally produced meat. Cultivated meat was found to take up 63%-95% less land use which will contribute to restoring the carbon balance in the ecosystem, the researchers claimed. Using cultivated meat could also reduce transportation and refrigeration costs and help reduce waste management, they added.

Cultivated meat avoids the need for antibiotics has the potential to replace saturated fats in minced meat used for burgers, sausages, and meatballs with healthier fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, they added.

Further, meat grown in labs claims to be a solution to animal welfare concerns and food security. The UK is a net importer of pig meat, currently importing around 60% of all the pork it consumes. It imports around 35% of the beef and veal, and around a third of the lamb, according to the British Meat Processors Association.  

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