Lab-grown Meats Will Help to Address Climate Change

The protein sector is at a crossroads. On the one hand, global demand for animal protein has never been higher. On the other, meat and dairy already have an outsized hoofprint on the world’s farmlands. And with the climate crisis devastating natural and agricultural resources, we know the Earth’s ecosystems cannot support an expanded traditional agricultural sectorPlant-based protein has experienced rapid growth but is dwarfed by the size of the global meat protein market.

Enter cellular agriculture. Every day brings news of new venture capital funding, adding over US$9.7 billion in global investments. Cellular agriculture encompasses a raft of technologies and approaches that manufacture food and other products normally sourced from plants and animals including: dairy proteins, egg proteins, chocolate, honey, red meat, poultry, seafood, leather, silk and ingredients including sweeteners and flavourings. Cellular agriculture entered the public eye in 2013 when tissue engineering researcher Mark Post produced the first test-tube burger. This prototype cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but today, the same patty can be made for about 10 euros, or $15. In the past two years, dozens of companies have sprung up in Singapore, Israel and California to develop consumer products almost biologically identical to those traditionally sourced from plants and animals.

A few products are already in restaurants and on supermarket shelves. The cellular agriculture dairy company Perfect Day brews dairy proteins in bioreactors using yeast, much like a craft brewer produces beer. One of the largest plant-based food companies, Impossible Foods, uses cellular derived soy heme in its signature burger. Their Whoppers are for sale at Burger King and they have just raised a further US$500 million in investment capital to scale up production. The food-tech startup Eat Just mixes chicken proteins produced through cellular agriculture with plant-based ingredients to create an analogue to a chicken nugget.

Some current cellular agriculture technologies involve animal-based inputs such as stem cells and growth media. These products are not necessarily vegetarian, and so may not be universally accepted by consumers for cultural, religious or dietary reasons. That said, there is a huge potential to reduce water consumption, energy use, land use and greenhouse gases. While there are debates as the extent of the hoped-for environmental benefits, optimists are betting on the fact that carefully designed bioreactors using renewable energy will be more sustainable than a lot of the world’s livestock systems.

https://theconversation.com/

Replacement Meats Within 20 Years

Meat is big business. According to analysis by A.T. Kearney, the global meat market was worth $1,000 billion in 2018, and this is set to grow. The World Economic Forum’s Alternative Proteins report says demand for meat will double before 2050 as our global population increases, becomes wealthier on average, and adopts food choices that are currently restricted to high-income countries.

At the same time, concerns about how to feed this expanded populace, along with the impact meat has on factors including our health, the environment and animal welfare have been steadily rising. Vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarianism are regularly in the news, with more and more people becoming advocates of plant-based eating. A study conducted by the UK research company YouGov found that one in five believes the future is meat-free.

Correspondingly, in recent years we have witnessed a sharp upsurge in the attempt to find viable alternatives. Classic vegan and vegetarian meat replacements have been a standard feature on our supermarket shelves for several years of course, while insect-based meat replacements, while available, occupy a relatively niche position.

More recently, the search has found its way into our laboratories, and start-ups like Impossible Foods, Just and Beyond Meat have brought novel vegan meat replacement, a plant-based product category that imitates the sensory profile of meat, to the table. Looking further ahead, other companies are now using advances in biotechnology to prototype and test cultured meat, which is created using cells extracted from living animals, slaughter-free.

Source: https://www.weforum.org/