Cell-grown meat makers look to scale-up for bigger markets

Jul 19, 2019  | 2 min  | Ep4448

First the debate was over what defines milk. Now meat is in a similar discussion as cell-based alternatives are coming to the market. Products that look and taste like pork, beef and chicken are being put on the table to allow consumers to decide their fate. David Miller explains

It looks like chicken, cooks like chicken and tastes like chicken but no chickens lost their lives to make this cutlet. Memphis Meats is one of a growing number of startups worldwide producing meat from cells, which don't require slaughtering animals. They want to bring cell-based, or cultured meat, to your dinner table.

Uma Valeti, CEO Memphis Meats:"We take cells from high quality animals. We feed them with the nutrients of these cells need to become meat. And once they become meat, we harvest it and we cook it into the products we love to eat."

In addition to chicken - deep fried in this demo - Memphis Meats has made cell-grown duck and beef meatballs. It hopes to start selling its products within two years.

San Francisco-based New Age Meats is producing cell-based pork, which was prepared as sausage for this tasting.

Brian Spears, CEO New Age Meats: "So people want meat. They don't want slaughter. And so we make slaughter-free meat, and we know there's a massive market for people that want delicious meat that doesn't require slaughter."

But these startups face some difficult challenges to bringing cell-based meat from the lab to the marketplace. They must win approval from government regulators, assuring consumers that the products are safe to eat. And they must bring down the cost of cultured meat, which is still extremely expensive to produce.

New Age Meats is developing a new type of bioreactor to produce cell-grown meat at an industrial scale.

Ricardo San Martin, UC Berkeley Alternative Meat Program: "How can you go from the tiny, tiny meatball to produce the amount of meat that one cow has, which is like maybe 800 pounds or so? That's the real challenge."

Backers say cultured meat is more sustainable than traditional meat - because it doesn't require the land and resources needed to raise livestock.

The upstarts are facing resistance from livestock producers, which are lobbying to restrict what can be labeled meat.

For Market to Market, I'm David Miller

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