ISRAEL – The once extremely expensive lab grown chicken is finally becoming more affordable thanks to more players joining the game, scientific advancements, new plant-based growth media, and partnerships across different scientific disciplines.
Most recently, Israel-based Future Meat Technologies produced a cell-based chicken breast for about US$7.50, the biggest cost reduction recorded to date.
Compared to the US$325,000 spent in 2013 to produce the world’s first hamburger made from cell-based meat in 2013, the US$7.50 is a great milestone in cell-based meat industry.
It is arguably the biggest step yet in the quest to bring the novel delicacy to dinner tables across the globe.
Price is King
Getting the price of cell-based meat down to where consumers can afford it is central to developing it as a food item and to building the foundation of the industry
Consumers – as price sensitive as they are- will not be willing to buy it if it costs a lot more than conventional meats no matter how good it is to the environment.
How Future Meat got it right
Low cost and efficient production were at the forefront of Future Meat Technologies Founder and Chief Science Officer Yaakov Nahmias’ mind when he started Future Meat in 2018 — and the company is getting closer to both.
Future Meat has for instance built robotic analytical systems that break down the chemical composition of different plants and proteins and has discovered some food ingredients that work well for cultured meat growth.
Additionally, the Future Meat bioreactors also have a system that can clean the growth medium. This means that impurities are removed and the growth medium can actually be reused, further reducing the cost of growth media.
With the cost of cell-based chicken significantly down, Nahmias is confident that his company is right now we roughly in the area that Impossible Foods were when they when they started showing up with their products.
New funding to support expansion plans
In addition to the lower cost of a chicken breast, Future Meat Technologies also announced US$26.75 million in new funding.
This latest round, in the form of a convertible note, involved both new and old investors in the company, and it more than doubles its existing funds.
The funding came just in time as Future Meat Technologies is in the process of building out what would be one of the most efficient biomanufacturing facilities in the world.
In this 800-liter facility, about 36% of the bioreactor will become biomass, which Nahmias says is 10 times more efficient than many others existing today — and more efficient than what had been predicted for the cultured meat industry.
Prospects for regulatory approval
The company is also focusing on getting regulatory approval for its products, and is working closely with the FDA in the United States and with regulators in its home country in Israel.
While the drop in manufacturing cost and new funding are both big deals for Future Meat Technologies, Nahmias said they’re just the first two announcements in what he thinks will be a very exciting year for the company.
Future Meat currently has a target of getting products on the market in 2022, but Nahmias said it could be sooner if regulators give their approval faster.
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