UNITED KINGDOM, Camebridge. UK market research firm IDTechEx reviews progress in bringing lab-grown meat to market in a recent study.
Cultured meat could largely replace conventional meat production in the coming years. At least, that is the hope of those investors who are investing in the ever-growing number of projects. However, the British market research and consulting firm IDTechEx
is putting the brakes on euphoria - as far as short-term prospects are concerned. The authors of the study point out that Singapore is the only country in which meat produced from cell reproduction can be sold
. The chicken nuggets of the US manufacturer Eat Just have been offered in a restaurant since the beginning of 2021. Among investors, the lab meat pioneers nevertheless enjoy great interest. Since 2015, dozens of startups have been backed by investors with € 600 mill. IDTechEx expects Cultured Meat to have a turnover potential of one trillion euros in the long term.
US firms attract most capital
There are now companies working on Cultured Meat production on every continent. 40% of the companies come from North America, mainly from the USA. Among the best known are Eat Just
, Upside Foods (previously Memphis Meats
) and BlueNalu
. The region also attracts the most capital, with 57% of global investment flowing to North America, he said. Investors' enthusiasm is due in part to the growing popularity of meat alternatives in the US, he said. The lavish capital resources mean that North American cultured meat companies are among the most developed, he said. For example, BlueNalu, a producer of cell-cultured seafood, is building a 40,000-square-foot pilot plant in San Diego. The goal is to bring product to the US market this year, he said.
North America could become the second region where cultured meat may be sold. The study reports speculation that approval of cell-cultured seafood is imminent. For imitation seafood, the regulatory hurdles are lower, it said, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is solely responsible for approving it. In the case of cultured meat, which is produced from cells of farm animals such as chicken, pork or beef, the US Department of Agriculture(USDA
) is also involved, which makes the approval process more complex.
At present, the potential market launches are still rumours, the authors of the study emphasise. There are no official announcements yet to suggest cultured meat could be available in stores and restaurants in the US anytime soon, they say. However, approval in the U.S. would be huge for the cultured-meat industry and would likely bring a flood of fresh capital into the field. In addition, such a decision would affect approval processes in other regions.
EU offers one of the best regulatory frameworks
With 25% of companies and 21% of investment, Europe is currently the second most important continent for the emerging industry. The European Union also has one of the best regulatory frameworks for the approval of cultured meat in the world, he said. Cultured meat is explicitly mentioned in the "Novel Food Regulation". In it, the EU shows companies a clear path for approval.
However, the authors of the study see problems in another area. They expect fierce disputes over the labelling of cultured meat products, as has already been the case with plant-based alternatives. In addition, consumers and regulatory authorities in Europe have always been opposed to biotechnological processes such as genetic engineering in food. The study warns that this resistance could leave the EU behind in the next generation of innovative foods.
Singapore aims to improve food security
Cultured Meat was first approved in Asia. The Singapore government has long supported these new practices to improve the country's food security, he said. The goal is to meet 30 percent of the city-state's food needs itself by 2030 through vertical farming and alternative proteins. Across Asia-Pacific, however, investors are still reluctant. 17% of companies are based in the region. But they have only been able to secure 5% of the capital that has flowed into the sector globally. The authors of the study also see gaps in regulation, as no country outside Singapore has an appropriate legal framework. Therefore, it could still take years before Cultured Meat is launched on the Asian market. On the other hand, studies show that East Asian consumers are more willing to try cultured meat than consumers in Western countries such as the US.
Great progress in Israel
Similar to Singapore, food security is also a major concern in Israel. It is therefore not surprising that there are several cultured meat start-ups in the country, including Aleph Farms
and Future Meat
. However, the new products have not yet been approved for sale in Israel either. Only in one restaurant can interested parties try SuperMeat meat obtained from the propagation of chicken cells free of charge.
The first initiatives for Cultured Meat have also been launched in South America and Asia. Cell Farm Food Tech, based in Argentina, became the first cultured meat start-up in the region. Brazilian meat company BRF recently partnered with Aleph Farms to bring cultured meat to the region. In Africa, Cape Town-based Mzansi Meat hopes to gain a foothold across the continent through its local networks and understanding of African culture. Due to difficult cost pressures and the lack of an established supply chain infrastructure, the authors of the study do not see good prospects for a successful market launch in Africa.
Source: fleischwirtschaft.de, IDTechEx