Meat — a $1 trillion industry — is still the defining element of the global diet. Consumption is expected to continue to grow (e.g. China already consumes 28% of the world’s meat but represents only half of the average American per capita consumption). Yet producing meat is inhumane, polluting and inefficient. Cows require 26 pounds of feed for every one pound of edible meat produced, livestock emissions are responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gases (more than all the world’s transportation combined), and overuse of antibiotics on farms is commonplace. We cannot continue to feed the planet this way. Breakthrough cell technologies are now enabling scientists and entrepreneurs to re-invent meat by removing animal farming from the production process, with potentially very significant positive implications for feeding a fast-growing, protein-hungry population in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet.
Although over the past years there have been significant R&D breakthroughs in plant-based meat, there is (arguably) still no substitute in terms of taste, texture, and cost for real meat. As a result, today there are a number of bold new initiatives to create commercially viable cell-based meat products that are competitive in terms of taste, price and consumer health standards, without harming animals and the planet. However no one has yet overcome the two biggest hurdles to lowering the production cost (i.e., by a factor of 10,000): i) speeding up cell growth by several orders of magnitude and ii) creating the ideal cellular medium for the cells to feed on so that they create the same taste, structure and texture of meat.
The Future of Meat
Meatable solves scalability challenges by using infinitely proliferating cells that can turn into both muscle and fat tissue, in order to fully resemble animal muscle tissue. The company’s technology (based on the Cambridge & Stanford research carried out by Meatable’s co-founding team of renowned cell-reprogramming scientists) could produce millions of identical animal cells at unprecedented purities, in a short timeframe, while fully replacing fetal bovine serum (the standard cellular medium which cells feed on today). This ground-breaking advance means that the technology could in theory feed the world with one single initial cell. Also, their “programmable cell” technology could become a platform technology that empowers entrepreneurs and organisations to create and design entirely new forms of meat with superior health, taste and texture properties.
As science collides with software and data to create new frontiers in biology, it can increasingly produce process-driven, reliable and repeatable systems poised to disrupt many sectors — from foods to materials to healthcare, and even information technology itself. As the naturally occurring planetary resources get more scarce and production processes become increasingly toxic for the planet, it is time to rethink how we produce the goods and materials required to support human life on our planet. We need the next agricultural revolution. Although cell-based meat has a longer and more complex R&D journey compared to other alternative protein segments, once the cellular approach achieves the scaling up necessary for reasonable price points, it could fundamentally and irreversibly disrupt one of the world’s largest markets. We believe Meatable’s unique technology platform, team experience and lab results to date will allow the team to take a serious run at creating a post-animal economy.