SOUTH AFRICA – Mzansi Meat, Africa’s first cultivated meat start-up based in South Africa has appointed Dr Wade Edwards (PhD) to be its new Research and Development (R&D) Director.
Dr Wade brings with him over 20 years of experience in entrepreneurship and the commercialisation of research and innovation in the Life Sciences, Biotechnology and Engineering sectors.
In addition to his PhD in Biotechnology and majors in Microbiology and Biochemistry from Rhodes University, he participated in the Executive Education Programme hosted by the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Founded last year, the biotech company seeks to use cellular agriculture technology to grow meat from cells.
It has initiated the process of producing cruelty-free cell-cultured protein products last year, moving away from the traditional methods of harvesting livestock for meat.
The company uses cellular agriculture technology to grow meat from cells obtained from animal donors, which are not harmed in the process.
After the cells are extracted, they are grown in a bioreactor and then are differentiated into muscle and fat cells.
Cultured meat companies have traditionally used FBS (fetal bovine serum) as a growth medium, but Mzansi is in discussion with companies that create growth factors from non-animal derived sources.
The company will first focus on beef, using the biomass end product as an ingredient for ground meat. Eventually, it will work on producing cultured whole cuts.
Traditionally, livestock is reared until it reaches maturity and once it has, the livestock is slaughtered and the meat cuts are harvested.
Mzansi Meat Co believes that this method has become inefficient as many of the animals live in crowded unsanitary conditions.
According to the company, more than 60 million land animals are slaughtered globally every year and the process often involves using cruel and stress-inducing methods.
With its technology, it has developed a “cruelty-free” harvesting method that does not harm the animal and allows it to live a longer life.
The biotech also believes that there are also added benefits to cultivating meat as there is no use antibiotics to ensure the health of the livestock which has led to a rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Mzansi Meat Co. is currently in its pilot production phase, and hopes to have its first products available to sample by the end of this year.
By the second half of next year, the company aims to have its products on retail shelves.
Since its inception, Mzansi Meat Co. has already attracted the eyes of international investors, including Ryan Bethencourt, the founder and CEO of California vegan pet food brand Wild Earth and early-stage alternative protein investor.
To further support the venture, the startup recently closed on its oversubscribed pre-seed funding round.
Some of the investors who took part in the round include Sustainable Food Ventures as well as members from the Glass Wall Syndicate.