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Beginner’s cluck: Eat Just’s Zachary Tyndall speaks to the first guests to enjoy lab-grown chicken meat in Singapore, the first country to allow the sale of meat created without slaughter


a singlemuscle cell, using 99% less land and 96%less water than the tra- ditional meat industry. Investment and research in the


sector has reduced production costs substantially, with Eat Just announc- ing that one of its cultured chicken nuggets costs the equivalent of a pre- miumchicken dish at a restaurant. The dynamics are alsomoving in the right direction. Blake Byrne, an innovation spe-


cialist at GFI, predicts that global investment into cellular agriculture —which includes cultivated meat, eggs and dairy products—could reach over $1bn in 2021.


Beefingupinvestment In the broader ‘bioengineered’ food sub-sector—which includes start-ups that produce either cell-based or plant-basedmeat alternatives—ven- ture capitalists (VCs) have been mak- ing increasingly larger bets. In 2020, bioengineered food


start-ups attracted a record €2.6bn of VC funding, according to PitchBook data, upmore than seven-fold froma decade earlier. US-based start-ups took the lion’s


share of this, attractingmore than €2bn of funding in 2020, helped by


major rounds fromlab-grownmeat start-upMemphis Meats and plant- based alternative producers, such as


Impossible Foods and Livekindly. Yet,whilemost cell-based food


start-ups are focusing on mimicking beef or chicken, others have set their sights on the sea. San Diego-based BlueNala is leading the way here, becoming the first cultured meat producer to lay out plans for a large- scale production facility back in August 2019, where it currently pro- duced a variety of seafood products. Tim Mellon, a serial investor and


non-executive director at sustainable food investment firm Agronomics, says that the “tipping point” is here and that he expects seafood to be approved for sale in the US this year.


Lion City lead Figures frominvestmentmonitor fDi Markets indicate that Singapore is the leading city destinationglobally for foreign research and development projects in the food and beverage sec- tor. At the country level, the city-state ranks third behind the US andChina. Beyond becoming a regional base


for tech start-ups, including dairy alternative producer Perfect Day, Singapore has also become the “top choice” for multinationals, says Ms Gosker-Kneepkens. These include Swiss legacy firms Givaudan and Buehler, that are set to open a new innovation centre to produce plant- based food in the city-state.


February/March 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com However, Ms Gosker-Kneepkens


says that with the influx ofmajor food companiesmoving into Singapore, there is nowa talent shortage. This has led GFI to launch an alternative protein university course in the Lion City to boost young workers in this field. Meanwhile other locations are


making theirownmeatymoves. Israel is positioning itself as a global alterna- tive protein ecosystem,withprime minister BenjaminNetanyahu trying cultivated steak in a visit to start-up Aleph Farms back in December 2020.


In the samemonth, theEUprovided €2.7m in grant funding to a lab-grown meat research project. Blake Byrne at the GFI predicts


that thenumber of cellular agricul- ture companies could grow from just more than 100 today to 150 by the end of 2021, including both start-ups and large corporations. Ms Gosker-Kneepkens believes


that other governments, such as the EU, UK, China and US, should follow in Singapore’s footsteps, asserting that plant-based and cultured substi- tutes are “probably our only hope” of seriously decreasing conventional meat production. “We need a space-race-type com-


mitment toward making meat from plants and cultivating it from cells,” she concludes.■


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