For this second “resources” article (see the first one on DTC (direct to consumer) or DNVB (digital native vertical brands) startups and their new path to success), we have decided to focus on lab-grown meat.
First, a few answers on some key questions:
- What is (and what is not) lab-grown meat? Lab-grown meat (also referred as clean meat, cultured meat, cell-based meat or cultivated meat) refers to a protein source identical to conventionally sourced meat at the cellular level. The process to create such meat without the butchery of animals is based on the in vitro culture of animal cells.
- Where does it come from? Far from only futuristic, the idea and science behind cellular agriculture (another denomination) is quite old. The history of lab-grown meat is often referred to have started with:
- In the mind of forward-thinking people such as Winston Churchill who said in 1931: “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”
- In 1971 for the first lab experiment by Russel Ross on muscular fibres, which then led to decades of research on the cultivation of human tissue.
- 2013 for the first tasting of a burger grown by the team of Mark Post (then founder of MosaMeat)
- Will people eat it? Counterintuitively, the desire for lab-grown meat is much higher than what most of us may think. A recent study (led by the same Mark Post) has tested the reaction to people to lab-grown meat (making them test the product). Once informed about the product, a majority of the respondents was ready to buy it, with a 40% premium!
- Does the world need lab-grown meat?
- The main argument for lab-grown meat is the environment as conventional meat agriculture has a huge impact on natural resources and the environment, from farming to retail. While lab-grown meat is still consuming significant amounts of water and electricity, its impact is much lower (notably with the use of greener sources of energy).
- Then, as some Western consumers are switching to plant-based foods, one should not forget about the billions of Africans and Asian consumers that will continue to access to middle-class status, for whom buying and consuming meat is socially important.
- Last but not least, lab-grown meat, by its very definition, is much less prone to foodborne illnesses due to contamination, which is a strong argument for countries stricken by these issues (such as China with pigs and the swine flu).
- When will see lab-grown meat in the supermarkets?
So, here are five curated resources that we often use at DigitalFoodLab when working with our clients, startups or large corporates to give them a few information on what’s happening on this ecosystem, where it comes from and where it could go:
1 – The cultivated meat 2019 report by the Good Food Institute to know more about the ecosystem, key players and investors
As shown in the graph below, it projects a majority market share for meat alternatives (both plant-based and lab-grown) in 2040!
4 – Clean meat is a new product. We can only wonder how it will be received by consumers. In this podcast episode of the Economist, journalists look for answers in the past with the history of potatoes. Indeed, coming for America, the produce wasn’t known to Europeans which have taken a long time to accept it.
5 – A quick mapping by DigitalFoodLab of some of the most relevant startups in this ecosystem (in red, startups working with lab-grown meat, in blue, those working with fermentation).