NORWAY – The Research Council of Norway, a Norwegian government agency that funds research and innovation projects, is funding the development of cellular agriculture technologies to produce the “food of the future”.

The research project will officially kick off in 2023 and run for five years until 2027, with the goal of developing cell-based agriculture technology as a means of producing the ‘food of the future.

The project has been dubbed Arrival of Cellular Agriculture-Enabling Biotechnology for Future Food Production, or ARRIVAL for short, and will be under the Research Council of Norway which has an annual budget of NOK20m (US$2.04m).

This Norwegian government agency is headed up by the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research (Nofima).

Other participants include contract research organization SINTEF Industry, Oslo Metropolitan University, the Norwegian Institute for Rural Research (Ruralis), the Norwegian Board of Technology, agricultural cooperative Nortura AS and its subsidiary Norilia AS, and Norwegian dairy giant, TINE AS.

The research group will be prioritizing Investigating technological and societal possibilities and challenges, including how willing Norwegians are to try food grown in a lab.

Meanwhile, Nofima already has work underway on cell-based agriculture via its strategic research programme titled Precision.

Under the ARRIVAL programme, the scientists plan to leverage precision fermentation technology which enables the programming of microorganisms, such as yeast, to produce complex organic molecules such as protein, to produce edible proteins like egg white and milk proteins.

This project, which runs from 2021 to 2025, is headed up by the Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products and funded by the Research Council of Norway, and was the first openly accessible research project in cultivated meat space.

Its goal was to develop new technology to cultivate muscle cells from bovine and to use residual biomass from the food industry as a growth medium for the cells.

Under the ARRIVAL programme, the scientists plan to leverage precision fermentation technology which enables the programming of microorganisms, such as yeast, to produce complex organic molecules such as protein, to produce edible proteins like egg white and milk proteins.

ARRIVAL lead Sissel Rønning explained: “In simple terms, there are two types of cell-based agriculture: lab-cultivated meat and precision fermentation, in the ARRIVAL project, we will use both methods to produce milk, eggs, and meat proteins.”

He noted that it is not to say that the dairy and egg industries are lagging, in fact, the number of laying hens and dairy cows has increased in recent years in Norway.

According to Statista, in 2021 there were around 4.18m laying hens in Norway while the average number of dairy cows per farm has been constantly increasing over the last 10 years, with preliminary figures for 2021 suggesting there were about 215,000 dairy cows.

But being in an environmental sustainability perspective, precision fermentation-derived alternatives appear to top the list in planet-friendliness.

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