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Meatable gets $10M to develop cell-cultured pork chops

Meatable gets $10M to develop cell-cultured pork chops
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Dive Brief:

  • Netherlands-based Meatable raised $10 million to fund its lab-grown beef and pork initiatives, according to AgFunder News. Blue Yard Capital, TransferWise co-founder and CEO Taavet Hinrikus, Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures and the European Commission all contributed to this seed funding round.
  • The company aims to have its first lab-grown pork chop prototype by the summer of 2020. It will be made from early-stage pig stem cells transformed into muscle and fat.
  • Meatable is developing meat using a technology built on 2012 Nobel Prize-winning research on how cells develop. According to AgFunder News, this technology can produce large batches of cells to make meat in day to weeks.

Dive Insight:

As more consumers reduce and eliminate the animal products they consume, more companies are looking to produce the alternative products to which they turn.

In addition to Meatable, there is Aleph Farms, which has raised more than $14 million from venture capitalists since 2017. Future Meat Technologies also recently raised $14 million in a round of funding, led by S2G Ventures and Emerald Technology Ventures. Both Tyson Foods and Cargill have invested in Memphis Meats, which is working on lab-cultured meat and poultry. Finless Foods is working on producing cultured bluefin tuna. Just is developing lab-grown chicken and has partnered with Japanese meat producer Toriyama to produce lab-grown wagyu beef.

Meatable's grand plan differs from these other companies. The company hopes to produce a whole pork chop, while ther companies are intently focused on developing beef, chicken and seafood — though Meatable is also experimenting with lab-grown beef.

As soon as some cell-based meat products come onto the market for retail, there is a good chance the segment will explode. And companies are close. Future Meat Technologies expects to have cultured meat products on the market in Israel in 2021. In October, Aleph Farms produced meat on the International Space Station, 248 miles away from any natural resource. It also made the first cell-grown minute steak late last year, delivering "the full experience of meat with the appearance, shape and texture of beef cuts." Just told VegNews in October that its cell-based chicken nuggets are ready for market — at $50 each — and the company is currently working with regulators in several different countries.

When Just got into cell-based meat, CEO Josh Tetrick told Food Dive reaching price parity with conventional meat was vital to getting consumers to try it. Considering the price tag on its chicken nuggets, the technology isn't there yet, but all the companies making meat from cells are striving to get there. At Memphis Meats, a pound of cell-cultured meat cost just shy of $2,400 in 2017, down from $18,000 the previous year. Future Meat told CNBC its production costs are currently $150 per pound of chicken, and $200 per pound of beef. However, some companies are not in too much of a hurry to bring costs down. The Wall Street Journal wrote cell-based meat companies are positioning their products as "innovative, humane luxuries worth the steep price tags."

Some have said consumers may be hesitant to try animal products grown in a laboratory, but research does not bear that out. Two-thirds of respondents to a study by Kadence International said they would be willing to try cell-cultured meat. Similarly, the Good Food Institute, University of Bath and the Center for Long Term Priorities found interest in this kind of product is expected to grow once it's on the market and consumers are familiar with it.

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