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SECTORSAGRIBUSINESS


Lab-grownmeat jumps frompetri dish to plate


CELLULAR AGRICULTURE IS ENTERING THE MAINSTREAM WITH SINGAPORE BLAZING THE TRAIL. ALEX IRWIN-HUNT REPORTS


L


ab-grownmeat is on the cusp of a revolution, having finally moved from a scientific ambi-


tion to consumers’ plates, after long- running concerns over the draw- backs of traditional meat production. In December 2020, Singapore


became the first country in the world to approve the sale of ‘cell- based’ meat, giving the go-ahead to San Francisco-based Eat Just to serve up its ‘cultured’ chicken to custom- ers. Eat Just announced plans to open its first Asianmanufacturing facility in Singapore back in October. Josh Tetrick, chief executive of the company, tells fDi that the Lion City is “leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system”. “Singapore is going to be a criti-


cal hub of manufacturing for Eat Just’s plant-based egg and cultured meat products for years to come,” he says.“We’ve seen an incredible amount of consumer excitement”. But by creating an enabling envi- ronment for innovation and invest-


ment, Singapore’s forward-thinking approach is having impact beyond its borders. Mirte Gosker-Kneepkens, country


head for Singapore at the Good Food Institute (GFI), an advocacy group for plant- and cell-based proteins, says that consumers being able to buy lab grownmeat has “made the industry real” in a way that it has not been until now. “Even though the volume of culti-


vated meat being sold is still the tini- est of drops in the bucket, we believe that it serves as a useful proof of con- cept that will accelerate growth of the space globally,” she adds. GFI is not alone in this thinking.


Roger Lienhard, the founder and partner of Blue Horizon Ventures, which backs start-ups disrupting the food industry, believes that food technology will define 2021. “I don’t think that it will be the


only time that we see cultured meat make it to a menu,” he wrote in a blog post shortly after Singapore’s regulatory approval. “Governments that realise the positive impact it will have on the environment will approve its sale, just as Singapore’s food authority has.” Research by UK bank Barclays


forecasts that the value of the alter- native meatmarket will grow ten-


fold to $140bn by 2029, equivalent to 10%of the globalmeat industry.


Simmering progress While lab-grownmeat is now gain- ing prominence, it has been years in the making.What emerged as an idea in the 1950s, spearheaded by Dutch scientist WilliamVan Eelen, only became a reality in 2013, when professor Mark Post at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands cre- ated the first cultured beef burger. However, despite progress the manufacturing process was far from commercially viable, witha single patty costing a whopping €250,000. Unlike plant-based meat alternatives, which aremadeof proteins such as pea and soybean, in vitro meat is pro- duced from animal cells grownin vats —a process that is far more expensive than raising livestock for slaughter. Despite these costs, the potential


for harm reduction is huge. Meat cul- tivation currently accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gasemissions, according to theUN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, not to mention its impact on antibiotic use, human health and animal welfare. Mosa Meat, the culturedmeat


start-up co-founded by Mr Post in 2016, claims that thousands of kilo- grams of meat can be produced from


WENEEDASPACE-RACE-TYPECOMMITMENT TOWARDMAKINGMEAT FROMPLANTSAND CULTIVATING IT FROMCELLS


90 www.fDiIntelligence.com February/March 2021


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