Africa’s first lab grown meat developer Mzansi Meat to debut cell-cultured burgers

SOUTH AFRICA – In just a few years, cell-cultured meat has moved from a lofty idea to a real consumer product.

Mzansi Meat, Africa’s first cultivated meat start-up based in South Africa is set to unveil the region’s first beef burger made with lab-grown meat.

“The African population is expected to grow from 1.3billion to 2.5billion by 2050; the demand for meat is expected to rise with it.

“This challenge presents an opportunity. An opportunity for a new source of protein, cultivated meat, to be part of the solution for food security on the continent,” says Brett Thompson, CEO of Mzansi Meat Co.

Most South Africans’ daily diets consist of meat and have been synonymous with the local culture such as hosting a Sunday braai for family and friends.

Traditionally, livestock is maintained 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.

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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.

The local business plans on scaling up production on its cultivated meat in order to ensure cruelty-free meat is available on as many plates around the country as possible.

The brand’s sights are not only set on burgers, as it plans to introduce minced beef burgers, sausages, nuggets, steaks and even chicken into the South African market over the next few years.

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Mzansi Meat’s intricate procedure

Since its establishment in 2020, Mzansi Meat Co. has been harnessing cellular agriculture technology in order to make meat from the cells of animals without actually harming the animal.

The process is intricate as it begins at its organic local farm animal sanctuary where veterinarians remove tiny tissue cells from donor animals, who roam free, with as little harm as possible, the company states.

Once the cells are harvested, a sample is placed in a nutrient-rich transport medium and taken to the Mzansi Meat labs where the cells are isolated and grown in a culture medium.

This is a special type of food containing vitamins, salts and proteins that the cells need to develop and divide.

Once they have enough cells, they’re placed on a scaffold and after adding a few additional spices and flavours, the cultivated meat is ready to be dished up and enjoyed.

Mzansi Meat Co. explains that the process of growing cell-based meat is similar to how beer is brewed.

“We’ve always had a thing for meat. It’s easy to see why – meat goes with all occasions and brings us together to make moments more flavourful. It’s also a rich form of protein loved by cultures the world over. The journey from the source to our plate however, comes at a cost.

“That’s where Mzansi Meat Co. was born – out of a relentless pursuit to reimagine our food systems and the way we make meat. We’re bringing healthy, accessible and affordable meat to your braais, potjies and shisa nyamas by growing it from cells, instead of harming animals,” Thompson states.

The concept of growing meat outside an animal has been a sci-fi-esque fascination ever since Winston Churchill suggested the concept nearly a century ago, if not before.

Records have it that in 2013, the world’s first lab-grown burger was served at a London news conference, and it cost US$330,000 to create.

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