Clean meat is big news at the moment and the progress that development companies have made in creating cultured meat grown in a laboratory has not escaped the notice of high profile investors such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates. The pair, along with food industry giants Cargill, have raised $17 million for Memphis Meats, one of the more well known clean meat companies. At present the cultured meat products cost around $18,000 per pound, much to rich for consumers to purchase, but the significant investment will go towards developing the procedure and lowering costs so that lab grown meat can be a viable alternative protein to conventionally reared meat. Memphis Meats are aiming for 2021 as the date by which their lab grown meat will be the same price as conventional meat products.
Several high profile investors, venture capitalists and bankers have commented on the appeal of clean meat as an investment product, seeing a bright future for the product, and with this kind of backing success is a lot more certain. Clean meat is generally thought to be targeting meat eaters and perhaps those who have chosen a vegetarian or vegan diet due to ethical and environmental concerns, but who miss eating meat. Long term vegetarians and vegans are not the target market as such, although there may be some room for compromise among those who approve of the scientific advances made in the pursuit of low-impact meat production.
Currently the focus is on growing small clumps of cells similar to mince in look and texture, but there are researchers working on growing larger muscle fibres that will be more like steaks and other cuts of meat. The University of California, Berkeley, has announced the creation of a lab for it’s students to develop plant based meat products, having run the first course last year and experiencing great demand for places. With study and research in academia as well as industry there will be no shortage of engineers for companies like Memphis Meats in the future. The huge investment in this research and development will ensure that these aims are realised sooner than previously thought, and within five years we could see these products on our shelves for general consumption.