The Dutch cultivated meat company has raised $35 million (€31.9 million) in new funding, bringing its total investment to $95 million. With this milestone, Meatable claims it is on track to launch its pork meat into the Singaporean market in 2024, followed by the US.
It is also buoyed by the recent cell-based meat applications in both Switzerland and the UK from Israeli’s Aleph Farms. “We're all pioneering great steps forward,” Meatable CEO and co-founder Krijn De Nood told FoodNavigator. “Every step is critical as we navigate the journey to full commercialisation of cultivated meat products to meet the demands of consumers.”
Meatable was founded in 2018 and has since grown to a team of around 100. It is also seeing positive support in the regulatory landscape in the EU and UK, we were told, with governments looking to remove the barriers to bringing cultivated meat to consumers and providing funding for innovation in food production including cell-based foods. The Netherlands, for example, also recently became the first European country to officially give the green light for companies to organise tastings.
“We’re currently working with European regulators to bring cultivated meat products to the continent,” De Nood told us. “In the Netherlands, the government has just made it possible to organize tasting events under controlled circumstances. This is a very positive development and will help us optimize our cultivated meat products. We will hold tastings in the Netherlands as soon as possible.”
Plans to scale up production in Singapore, then US
In the meantime, the funding will be used to further scale the company's processes and accelerate commercial launch. Process optimization, the company ambitiously claimed, will allow production to reach commercial volumes and become cost competitive with traditional meat.
Starting in Singapore, the company's products, including sausages and pork dumplings, will be available in selected restaurants and retailers from 2024. It has started production of cultivated pork products on the ground together with Esco Aster, the first and only commercially licensed cultivated meat manufacturer in Singapore, and has started co-development of its product range with plant-based butcher Love Handle. It is also establishing a presence in the US, which recently approved chicken made from cultivated cells.
Efficient production process key to achieving scale
The news, coincidentally, comes in the week marking the 10-year anniversary of the first cultivated meat burger, and a project that Meatable's CTO Daan Luining contributed to back in 2013.
To make its cultivated pork, Meatable takes one sample of cells from an animal without harming it and replicates the natural growth process of the cells using patented opti-ox technology combined with pluripotent stem cells. This technology makes it possible for Meatable to produce real muscle and fat cells in only eight days, 30 times faster than the time it takes to rear a pig for pork on the farm. Owing to this efficiency, Meatable claimed it has ‘all processes in place to be able to scale cultivated meat production affordably’.
The environmental debate
Investors have poured nearly $900 million into the sector since 2022, according to Meatable. Supporters of cultivated meat claim it offers a more environmentally way to satisfy the world’s appetite for meat.
This is likely to remain a hotly discussed issue, however. Peer-reviewed research by CE Delft shows cultivated meat could create 92% fewer emissions than the traditional meat industry and up to 94% less air pollution, and use up to 66% less water and 90% less land than conventional beef. It can also be made without antibiotics, helping to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. But a recent pre-print study out of the University of California, Davis, concluded that the environmental impact of cultivated meat is much higher than that of traditional meat, mainly thanks to a highly energy-intensive production processes.
This latter research points out problems that need to be solved in order to make the cultivated meat industry a success, admitted De Nood. “Meatable has the technology and process in place to take on these challenges and we have proof points to show this,” he claimed.
For example, the UC Davis study focuses on three elements that are said to contribute the most to environmental emissions: the sourcing of media (needed to grow cells into muscle and fat); the media process; and energy consumption in the factory.
“For each of these factors, we can demonstrate a much more positive result, resulting in a conclusion that is much more in line with independent research conducted in 2021 by CE Delft,” said De Nood.
“In our internal work, we’ve found that we achieve even more positive results to further reduce the impact of our food habits on the environment. This is in line with our mission as a company to serve the planet’s growing demand for meat, without harming people, animals, or the planet.
“When 14% of the world’s global emissions comes from the traditional meat industry, it’s clear that there needs to be an alternative that reduces the harm our diets are currently causing the planet. We believe cultivated meat is the answer and we are confident we have the tools and the processes in place to make this a reality.”
Daan Luining, co-founder and CTO of Meatable, added: “Farming has been revolutionized in the past 100 years to keep up with feeding a growing global population. Cultivated meat is the next revolution. Meatable holds the promise to have unbeatable efficiency in comparison to both traditional meat production and the cultivated meat industry average, without compromising on quality. This new funding will help us to further scale up, bring down production time even more and start producing cultivated meat for the world.”
‘There is a real need to find a solution that can provide meat at the scale needed to address a growing mass market’
Meatable’s latest Series B round drew renewed support from existing investors, including BlueYard, Bridford, MilkyWay, DSM Venturing and Taavet Hinrikus (chairman and founder of Wise). Invest-NL, a Dutch impact fund, joined as a new investor, contributing $17 million.
It was led by London-listed Agronomics, which is focused on opportunities within the field of cellular agriculture. Agronomics co-founder, the billionaire British investor Jim Mellon, said: “Meatable is one of the leading companies helping to transform the cultivated meat industry. With 80 billion animals slaughtered every year for meat and 70 per cent of the Amazon rainforest already destroyed because of animal agriculture, there is a real need to find a solution that can provide meat at the scale needed to address a growing mass market. The latest funding round will allow the company to scale up production in Singapore, and soon in the US, as it moves towards commercialization as part of its Go-to-Market strategy.”