Tag: Cultured Meat

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CRISPR Beef – A Breakthrough in Scalability and Affordability of Cultured Meat

For the first time, the genetic modification of meat cells using the CRISPR method has been successfully demonstrated in an experimental setting, addressing two of the main obstacles facing the cultured meat industry: the problem of large-scale production and the high cost of the end product. These two issues have been tackled head-on by the start-up SCiFi Foods, which modified the production process to obtain an affordable, cruelty- and animal-free burger. The product can be produced quickly and is identical – in terms of taste and nutritional properties – to meat obtained from living animals.

Unlike “traditional” lab-grown meat, SciFi Foods’ beef burger combines genetically modified cultured beef cells and plant-based ingredients. The genetic modification of the beef cells, achieved with CRISPR technology, enables them to multiply in suspension, that is, without the need for microcarriers (usually plastic beads) that are generally used for growing non-genetically modified cells. This allows a larger number of cells to grow within the limited space of a bioreactor.

The resulting beef is blended with plant-based ingredients, thus allowing the finished product to be obtained much faster and potentially in larger quantities than allowed by current processes used by other players in this sector, making it easily scalable and cost-effective at a price of about US$10 per burger in the pilot stage, which the company hopes to reduce to US$1 once large-scale production begins.

With these promising premises, the company plans to open a pilot plant in the San Francisco Bay Area by the second half of 2024. SciFi Foods is confident it will receive the go-ahead from US regulators to launch its genetically modified cultured burgers on the market. US policymakers are more accepting of GMOs than consumers in Europe. Whether the product will succeed in European markets remains to be seen for now. The EU published a report in 2021 signaling the desire to revise current GMO regulation. This bodes well for GMO-enhanced cultured meat products, but the final decision on approval in the EU will also depend on the outcome of the ongoing public consultation.

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fermented food fermented food fermented food fermented food

Fermented food: From cheese to future proteins

Precision fermentation is the process of using genetically engineered microorganisms to produce specific molecules, such as milk. You may think it will take years, if not decades, until food products made from this technology can be found in your local grocery store. The truth is, you may have been eating food produced by precision fermentation for years, in the form of cheese. 

The story of cheese

The first step in making cheese from milk is coagulation, which separates the solids from the liquids. Rennet, an important enzyme responsible for curdling milk, is added in this step. Traditionally, rennet was a byproduct taken from the fourth stomach of young calves. When the rising demand for cheese caused a serious supply shortage of rennet, scientists found a way to produce rennet through precision fermentation. The gene from the calf was inserted into a strain of bacteria, which was then cultured in a fermenter. In the end, rennet protein was obtained through isolation and purification. 

Fermented food

Today, 90 percent of cheese in the US market is made with rennet produced through precision fermentation. 

In 1990, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first genetically engineered product for human consumption. This approval marked the beginning of precision fermentation in the food industry. Now, 90 percent of cheese in the US market is made with rennet produced through precision fermentation. 

The food of the future

The same technology used to produce rennet is now being applied to make other proteins. In 2020, the company Perfect Day received approval from the FDA for the world’s first milk protein produced through precision fermentation, and launched the first ice cream made from cow-free milk. Valued at US$1.5 billion, Perfect Day is now a unicorn and preparing an IPO for 2022. 

Video Credit: Perfect Day

The livestock industry uses one-third of all habitable land and ten percent of global water resources. It is also responsible for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Because of the huge environmental impact, many organizations and start-ups are working to develop more sustainable ways to produce protein. Alternative protein, including proteins produced through precision fermentation, is considered the food of the future and is projected to account for 11 percent of the protein market in 2035. 

Alternative protein, including proteins produced through precision fermentation, is considered the food of the future and is projected to account for 11 percent of the protein market in 2035. 

If you are intrigued by the story of cheese and how the food and agriculture industry will evolve in the future, the Supertrends Dynamic report could be a place where you can find market and technology overview, experts’ opinions, and contact database. Why not start with a free sample report that covers all aspects of fermentation from technology, market opportunities, and regulatory status to the investment landscape via the Supertrends newsletter

Cultured meat in a petri dish Cultured meat in a petri dish Cultured meat in a petri dish Cultured meat in a petri dish

Is Cultured Meat Commercially Viable?

Cultured Meat is attracting more and more interest from investors and consumers alike. Ever since Singapore became the first country to give regulatory approval for cultured chicken meat in December 2020, debate over the novel cellular agriculture technology has shifted from questions of feasibility to discussion of the industry’s commercial viability. Now, cultured meat pioneer Mosa Meat has responded to critics.

Mosa Meat, the first company to present a prototype hamburger patty made from cultured beef eight years ago, on 10 November 2021 published a blog post in response to critical media reports that questioned whether the technology of producing meat from animal cells in bioreactors could ever become commercially sustainable.

Commercialization of cultured meat ‘not inevitable’

While agreeing that a cultured meat (CM) breakthrough on a commercial scale was not inevitable, the Dutch industry pioneers analyzed the critical points raised by media commentary into five main issues – concerns around growth media, critiques of lifecycle and techno-economic analyses, scalability of hardware and production facilities, open-source science versus private research, and the role of investors – and laid out their case that each of these potential barriers can be overcome.

Growth media

Regarding growth media, the key issues are the ethics of extracting fetal bovine serum (FBS) and the price of nutrients. Mosa Meat noted that alternatives to FBS are available for growing both muscle and fat tissues, and that its own animal-free serum is equally effective or better as FBS while also becoming progressively cheaper. While the firm acknowledged legitimate concerns over the ability to create a supply chain for pharma-grade nutrients at the levels needed to bring down prices and enable economies of scale, it pointed out that industry R&D efforts are underway to develop alternatives. Already, food-grade protein hydrolysates and feed-grade glucose have been shown to be effective nutrients.

Techno-Economic Analyses

Responding to criticism of Techno-Economic Analyses (TEA) and lifecycle analyses of CM, including the TEA by CE Delft published in February 2021, Mosa Meat conceded that economies of scale for cell production have not yet been achieved and that predictions on mass production of animal cells remain difficult. On the other hand, the CM industry is geared towards maximizing cell production and minimizing use of growth medium or recycling it, while the business model of the conventional biopharma industry (with which the CM industry was unfavorably compared) prioritizes secretion over biomass in the cell lines it cultivates. “While the base technologies of our two industries are similar, the production processes have divergent motivations and any modeling drawing comparisons need to take that into account,” the authors wrote.

Scaling up cultured meat production

In the area of hardware and production scalability, potential obstacles include the need to prevent contamination and the costs of production facilities as well as growth media. Mosa Meat argued that with appropriate facilities with compartmentalized stages meeting different industry standards, the risk of contamination can be managed. Comparing the industry production capacity required to cover all current meat consumption to that of global wine industry, Mosa Meat argued that the basic volume of bioreactors for CM should be 300m3 for 750,000 kg per year output. Production facilities on this scale, combined with optimized production processes and a fully developed value chain, can make commercial scale-up achievable, though it will take a decade or more, the authors wrote.

Open-source vs. private research

Responding to concerns that the prevalence of privately funded corporate research and unwillingness to share proprietary know-how could slow down or impede the commercialization of CM, Mosa Meat pointed out that it shares research and other insights with the industry at conferences and in publications. The authors encouraged other actors to follow suit in the interest of advancing the industry as a whole. As the cellular agriculture sector continues to grow, more and more public funding is also being made available, including by public authorities in the US, Iceland, Norway, Korea, Japan, the EU, Singapore, and Australia.

Silicon Valley or bust?

Is the CM sector, as some critics have alleged, a high-stakes casino for investors and venture capital firms from Silicon Valley seeking short-term gains? Mosa Meat cited the growing role of Series B investors who are now backing many major industry players. Their involvement showed there is now a broad funding base available for successful market actors, supported by rigorous due diligence on the part of investors seeking long-term sustainable engagement rather than quick profits, the authors argued: “The size and caliber of the companies that have now begun investing in cultivated meat gives a clear signal about the perceived viability of cellular agriculture. Many of these investors are also potential value chain partners that bring to the table expertise and strategic partnerships to help the industry commercialize more efficiently. It would be unfair and inaccurate to characterize them as uninformed or naive.”

In conclusion, Mosa Meat acknowledged that barriers remained to be overcome, including through open debate and exchange of viewpoints. “There is a natural tension between needing to generate excitement in order to raise funding and not overpromising on important milestones,” the authors wrote. As such, they called for “robust and open dialogue about the development of our beef” and announced that Mosa Meat’s co-founder and CM pioneer Mark Post would discuss the feasibility of CM at a panel with David Humbird, one of the industry’s most vocal critics, at the 7th International Scientific Conference on Cultured Meat, which runs from 29 November to 1 December 2021.


To learn more about cultured meat and its prospects for commercialization, read our dynamic report Supertrends in Cultured Meat.

Meat, Culture, and Cultured Meat: Supertrends Surveys Consumer Attitudes Toward Cell-Based Meat

The young industry of cultured meat has seen many technological, funding, and regulatory breakthroughs in 2020. Despite the rapid growth, some questions remain to be answered: Will consumers eat cultured meat? Will cultured meat face negative consumer attitudes, similar to genetically modified food?  

Cultured meat, or cultivated meat, is meat produced in a laboratory environment from animal cells. 2020 has been a record-breaking year for this young industry. Investment in this sector soared to US$350 million; fetal bovine serum (FBS)-free media has been developed and commercially produced; and Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of cultured meat. Despite the breakthroughs on the technology and regulatory fronts, as a novel food, cultured meat also requires cultural acceptance. There have been a few polls on consumer acceptance with diverse results. But there have not been many studies exploring the relationship between culture and meat, or cultured meat. What is considered edible meat in different cultures? Do people think cultured meat is real meat? What are the most important benefits people look for in cultured meat? Supertrends carried out a campaign in several countries to explore the cultural concepts of meat and cultured meat. 

A survey designed to explore the cultural concepts of meat and cultured meat

Supertrends targeted four countries for this research – China, India, Switzerland, and Colombia. China and India represented significant food cultures in the “East”. They are also some of the biggest and fastest-growing markets for both meat and fish, while Switzerland represented typical “Western” food culture, and Colombia represented another ethnic culture where livestock plays an important dietary role. 

Instead of a simple “yes or no” survey, the Supertrends team set up their research in three parts. In part one, participants were asked to freely list what they considered to be meat and words associated with cultured meat. Participants also were asked to write down the reasons why meat is eatable or uneatable. Keywords from participants’ descriptions were categorized and analyzed by the Supertrends team to determine if cultured meat fits into the concept of “meat” and whether it is considered edible. The conclusion was then tested in part two, where the participants had to answer survey questions regarding whether they were willing to try, purchase, and eat cultured meat. In part three, people around the world were asked to make predictions on 15 key  future milestones related to cultured meat. These were then compiled into a crowd-sourced future timeline of cultured meat. 

Cultured meat was associated with technology more than meat

Participants used words such as “stem cell”, “man-made”, or “biotech” to describe cultured meat.

The findings from this research are quite eye-opening. Across all participants, around 70 percent of the keywords in the free list of meat were related to animals. Some of the participants defined signs of life, such as respiration or blood circulation, as the defining criteria for meat. On the other hand, cultured meat was clearly associated with technology. Participants used words such as “stem cell”, “man-made”, or “biotech” to describe cultured meat. In general, the answer to the question of whether consumers view cultured meat as meat is that they are in doubt. This opinion was reflected in the mixed results of part two, where more than half of participants from Switzerland and Colombia stated they were willing to try cultured meat, while participants from China and India displayed less interest. 

Another interesting finding is that the majority of participants’ personal opinions towards cultured meat were positive or uncertain. However, this does not mean that they were willing to try cultured meat. For instance, most Indian participants considered cultured meat to be “good”, “eco-friendly”, and “healthy”, yet 55 percent of the Indian participants were reluctant to try cultured meat. At the same time, 80 percent of the Swiss participants, who mostly voiced uncertainty and opposition, were willing to try cultured meat. 

The wisdom of the crowd

The consensus time among survey respondents was in general two to three years later than the experts’ prediction

In the last part of the research, a crowd-sourced timeline was formed based on the “wisdom of the crowd”. Comparing the consensus time (average time of all predictions) with the time predicted by industry experts, Supertrends found that the consensus time among survey respondents was in general two to three years later than the experts’ prediction. This again signaled that the technology development in this novel food industry is ahead of consumer readiness. 

The supertrends crowd-sourced timeline for cultured meat

Things can change pretty quickly in an innovative field. People’s opinions can be influenced by many elements. By the time the Supertrends research on culture and meat was published, Singapore had already become the first country to make cultured meat commercially available. It is now up to the cultured meat industry to seize the opportunity and encourage consumers to make up their minds. 

If you are interested in the complete findings from the Supertrends research, you can read the full article for free here

© 2021 Supertrends

The First Cultivated Seafood Company from Africa

Cultured seafood, synthetically grown from fish or crustacean cells in a bioreactor, is being touted as one of the next major developments in the food industry. Most of the small but growing number of companies in the sector of cultured meat are based in the US, Europe, and Asia. However, the cutting-edge technology is also gaining a foothold on the African continent. Supertrends spoke to Marica Quarsingh, the CEO of Africa’s first cultured seafood company.

In 2020, Marica Quarsingh’s promising energy efficiency project was brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of looking backward, however, this resilient entrepreneur found new business opportunities in cell-based meat, a novel protein source that is viewed as a potential solution to global food sustainability, a concept very close to her heart. She nicknamed her project “Mermaid X”. 

Marica Quarsingh, forward-thinking businesswoman, entrepreneur, and founder of Sea-Stematic from South Africa.

An innovative business idea with collaboration in mind

Global demand for animal-based food is growing rapidly and contributes significantly to the depletion of natural resources. At the same time, consumers are more and more conscious of health- and environment-related factors and are looking for sustainable alternatives. As a seasoned businessperson, Quarsingh quickly identified cultured meat as one of the innovations that could potentially disrupt the traditional meat industry.

“We are out to collaborate, not compete.” 

After studying various cultured meat products more closely, she decided that cultivated seafood was where she wanted to go. “Seafood has a very big market, especially in Asia. Globally, less than ten companies are working on cultivated seafood. There is lots of space for everyone. We are out to collaborate, not compete.” 

Accordingly, Quarsingh founded her own cultured fish manufacturing company, called Sea-Stematic in South Africa. She utilized her talents and network to position Sea-Stematic with an international outlook in terms of R&D activities, funding, and marketing strategies. China is one of the major markets Quarsingh wants to target. “We know that the Chinese may be able to produce cultivated seafood themselves. But the market is big enough, and we and the Chinese local producers may become strategic partners.”

The future outlook for Sea-Stematic

Under Quarsingh’s leadership, Sea-Stematic embarked on an ambitious path, yet one that is unusual for a start-up. The company is working in parallel on all fronts.

“We brought in the scientists who have the necessary know-how, and we also brought in the human element. We want to be an exciting company that delivers honest products.”  

On the technology side, Sea-Stematic is working with a team of international scientists to establish various cell lines of fish species, creating a plant-based scaffold, and developing a glycan-based extra-cellular matrix-like growth media. Quarsingh is targeting a timeline of two to four years to have the product ready for the market. While the technology is being further developed, the company is also working on marketing strategy and brand-building. “We brought in the scientists who have the necessary know-how, and we also brought in the human element. We want to be an exciting company that delivers honest products,” says the CEO, who has clearly set high goals for herself and for her firm.

Despite her ambitious goals, money is not everything for Quarsingh. She firmly believes that business has to make sense. It has to be sustainable and entail tangible benefits for the world in which we live. “You can throw money at me. But if the business doesn’t make sense, I will throw it right back,” she notes. It is a bold claim, but Quarsingh is convinced that cultivated seafood is exactly the kind of business that makes sense, both economically and for the planet.

Quarsingh hopes to deliver her first product within the next four years. When do our experts and the Supertrends community expect the first cultured meat or cultured fish product to reach retail shelves? Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured meat’ to find out! Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2021 Supertrends

Jim Mellon, author of Moo's Law Jim Mellon, author of Moo's Law Jim Mellon, author of Moo's Law Jim Mellon, author of Moo's Law

Jim Mellon Invokes ‘Moo’s Law’ for CellAg Meat

Jim Mellon is a British investor and entrepreneur. His latest book, Moo’s Law: An Investor’s Guide to the New Agrarian Revolution, is available via Harriman House and Amazon.

The latest book by British tech investor Jim Mellon, Moo’s Law, explains why and how cultured meat technology will transform farming and revolutionize our food supply on a global level. In an interview with Supertrends, he discusses the growth and future prospects of cellular agriculture.

The title of Jim Mellon’s new book on the cultured meat business – “Moo’s Law” ­– really says it all: He wrote his “investor’s guide to the new agrarian revolution” because he believes that the trajectory of pricing in this industry will resemble what has happened to semiconductors in the past decades. The chairman of the Burnbrae private asset management group and largest shareholder of Agronomics, a UK-listed investment company specializing in modern foods and biotech, is convinced that industrialized farming is unsustainable, and that greener, cleaner meat alternatives free from antibiotics and many hormones are required. “The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating our awareness of the threat of zoonotic transmission, and the issue of antibiotic resistance in bacteria caused by intensive farming is gaining greater traction,” he said in an interview with Supertrends.

So what’s holding back the cellular agriculture revolution? While Mellon sees a few obstacles, he is confident they will soon be resolved. For example, the growth factors used to cultivate animal muscle cells are extremely expensive (on the order of millions of US$ per gram), since the biotech and pharmaceutical industries only require minuscule units.  Here, according to Mellon, “it’s only a matter of scale until the price comes down.” The same applies to bioreactors, which are needed at greater capacities and lower cost than those currently available on the market. Again, Mellon is convinced that the prices will eventually come down, with companies like Sartorius already developing 20,000- to 100,000-liter bioreactors.

Stamp of approval?

As far as regulatory issues are concerned, the decision in December 2020 by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) to approve cultured chicken for human consumption could pave the way for more endorsements by government bodies and food safety authorities, Mellon believes, with Israel possibly on track to follow suit. Seafood might be next, he says: “We anticipate that BlueNalu could get FDA approval for its mahi mahi seafood by the end of the year.” While the traditional meat industry has a much stronger lobby than seafood both in the US and Europe, he points out that trying to ban competitors didn’t work for the dairy industry, either, with alternative milks now holding more than 20 percent of the market, up from half a percent ten years ago. “I think the tipping point will be much faster than you would expect,” says Mellon.

In Europe and the US, he thinks it will be about 18 months before the first cultured meat companies get the green light from regulators. “Some more dynamic jurisdictions in regions that are dependent on food imports, such as Singapore, possibly Hong Kong, and in the Middle East will be accelerants of the approval process. While there are always glitches along the way in any industry, the general feeling among my colleagues and myself is that we will have mass adoption of cellular agriculture products within five years,” Mellon predicts. This might happen even earlier for materials that require no regulatory approval, such as cultured leather or textiles.

Customer acceptance

Studies show that younger cohorts of potential customers better understand the environmental and animal cruelty issues associated with intensive animal farming than older consumers. “The expectation is that in the US, about 70 percent of consumers would give cell ag meat and seafood a try. But we know it’s ultimately about cost, convenience, taste, and texture,” Mellon believes. Despite the benefits to the environment and human health, the price tag in supermarkets will still determine whether consumers are willing to adopt cultured meat en masse.

Will we see any IPOs by cultured meat companies in the near term, considering that it might take some time before they start delivering the kinds of profits that cause excitement in the market? “I don’t see any indication that any of these cell ag companies want to go public in the very near term, but we’ll see significant rollout of their products, and therefore some revenue at least. There’s more than enough venture capital available to satisfy their needs at the moment,” says Mellon, who thinks that the first company might go public in about three years’ time. “It’s a technology that is disruptive at every level. That’s why big food companies are already investing in this sector to a limited extent,” he notes. “They know which side their bread is buttered on.”

Want to hear more from Jim Mellon? Watch the book launch of Moo’s Law featuring Mark Post and Lou Cooperhouse.

Stay in the know with the Supertrends Cultured Meat Report

Meat substitutes based on plants and other protein sources are rapidly gaining popularity, with many stores and supermarkets now featuring a section reserved for these foods. Many estimates suggest cultured meat could reach the shelves within a decade. As such, once it becomes widely available, Cultured Meat is poised to become the new billion-dollar industry. So how can you stay informed about and benefit from this innovative technology? The Supertrends dynamic report on cultured meat will provide you with a comprehensive analysis that provides insight into the key players, technologies, challenges, opportunities, as well as a glimpse into the future of this exciting field. Click here to find out more.

© 2021 Supertrends

Blue Nalu head quarters Blue Nalu head quarters Blue Nalu head quarters Blue Nalu head quarters

BlueNalu nets new funding for cell-based seafood products

Lou Cooperhouse, BlueNalu’s President + CEO, standing in front of their headquarters and pilot food production facility in San Diego; Photo Courtesy of BlueNalu

With a new round of funding secured, the California-based company aims to make the first products available to US diners in the near future.

BlueNalu, a US provider of cell-based seafood cultured in bioreactors, announced last week that it had recently secured US$60 million in financing. This comes in addition to the financing round of US$20 million announced in early 2020. “This will help us finance our work until the next milestone, allowing us to get our pilot facility completed and equipped, and the documentation in place to meet the requirements of the FDA,” said President and CEO Lou Cooperhouse. “As soon as we have met both of these requirements, we will be able to launch our first product to restaurants in the US.”

Speaking at an online event, Cooperhouse touted the potential of cell-based seafood compared to traditional fishing and aquaculture. Wild fishery is lagging due to depleted stocks, and aquaculture is struggling to make up for those shortfalls, he noted, adding that provisions of fish and seafood are highly vulnerable due to their globe-spanning supply chains (the US, for instance, imports 90 percent of its seafood). Not only does the industry have a devastating impact on animal stocks, coral reefs, and other oceanic ecosystems, but the product yield in restaurants is only 50 to 60 percent due to losses or spoilage in transport and the fact that many animal parts such as fins, tails, bones, or skin are discarded.

“This highly inefficient approach leads to variations in supplies, quality, and freshness of products,” said Cooperhouse. “Our cell-based product can be 100 percent local, with an environmental footprint that will be transformative for the entire global supply chain.” The ability to make seafood in close proximity to consumers in a bioreactor also means that the products can be demand-driven and responsive to the wishes of the customers, rather than being supply-restricted and determined by what catch is available on any given day.

cell-based seafood
BlueNalu’s whole-muscle, cell-based yellowtail prepared in four different recipes (clockwise from top left): roasted butternut squash & yellowtail bisque, poke bowl, fish taco, and kimchi; Photo courtesy of BlueNalu

BlueNalu has already developed well over 100 stable cell lines for mahi mahi, bluefin tuna, red snapper, and other fish species, with more planned for the future. The company’s goal is to complete its pilot facility in San Diego and have limited amounts of product commercially available over the next year, with full-scale commercialization a realistic prospect in the not-too-distant future.

“The BlueNalu team has done a stellar job with each step of the growth process,” said Chuck Laue, a board member and investor in BlueNalu and founder and chair of Stray Dog Capital.They have assembled a highly capable and mission-driven team with experience in myriad disciplines, and they are going to change the way the world consumes seafood. They are using science, technology, engineering and innovation to protect our planet. I’m excited and honored to participate in such an important venture.”

While the nascent cell-based meat industry in the US is experiencing a great deal of pushback from the strong lobby of traditional beef, pork, and chicken producers, Cooperhouse notes that there has been less opposition from the seafood industry. “We do not expect as much competition from the US fishing industry because we are targeting species that are typically imported from overseas, illegally fished, or have a high mercury content,” he says. “We see ourselves as working with existing players, and complementing our global supply chain of seafood, rather than being in competition.” Ultimately, he anticipates that there will be three ways of sourcing fish and seafood – from wild catch, conventional aquaculture, and cellular aquaculture via cell-based processes.

At Supertrends, we are co-creating the future – and you can be a part of it

A growing number of companies are striving to bring cell-based food to consumers, including cultured meat as well as fish and seafood. When do you think the first cell-based seafood will be available in restaurants? When will the first large-scale bioreactors be operational? How long before regulators approve cell-based animal muscle for human consumption in the US? Visit the Supertrends App and make your own predictions! Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2021 Supertrends

Man and child buying meat in supermarket Man and child buying meat in supermarket Man and child buying meat in supermarket Man and child buying meat in supermarket

Singapore leads the future of food with world-first approval of cultured meat sales

Cultured meat, also known as “lab-grown meat” or “clean meat”, is built up from layers of animal muscle cells cultivated in a bioreactor. Since the debut of a proof-of-concept hamburger patty in 2013, it has increasingly come to the attention of potential consumers and investors. Although the technology of cell culture has been well developed in the medical field, the concept still faces several challenges in making a commercial product as an alternative to animal protein. One of these challenges is regulatory approval. 

This week, Singapore became the first country to overcome the regulatory hurdle facing cultured meat companies [Tech Crunch]. Singapore’s decision to take a leading role in regulating cell-based protein products should not come as a surprise. The city-state currently imports 90% of its food from over 170 countries. While Singapore cannot expect to be fully self-sufficient, they aim to supply 30% of the country’s nutrition needs through the Singapore Food Story R&D Program. The strategic policy will also put Singapore in a leading position in sustainable urban food production, bio-based protein production, and food safety science. 

“For a small island state like Singapore, the foray into lab-grown meat makes a lot of sense”, said Professor Paul Teng, Dean and Managing Director of National Institute of Education International from Singapore, in his commentary.

Professor Paul Teng, Supertrends Expert

For a small island state like Singapore, the foray into lab-grown meat makes a lot of sense.

While the US and Europe have layers of regulations on novel food (such as cultured meat), the Singapore Food Agency published detailed guidance on novel foods’ safety assessment in 2019. According to a media report, Eat Just received approval for its cell-cultured chicken after working with the Singapore Food Agency for about two years. 

With Singapore being the first to open the door, other countries in Asia, the US, and Europe are likely to quickly follow suit. Just days after Singapore’s big move, another news came from Asia that Avant Meats, a Hong Kong-based startup working on commercializing cultivated fish, received US$3.1 million in funding from investors, including China Venture Capital. 

Stay in the know with the Supertrends Cultured Meat Report

Meat substitutes based on plants and other protein sources are rapidly gaining popularity, with many stores and supermarkets now featuring a section reserved for these foods. Many estimates suggest cultured meat could reach the shelves within a decade. As such, once it becomes widely available, Cultured Meat is poised to become the new billion-dollar industry. So how can you stay informed about and benefit from this innovative technology? The Supertrends dynamic report on cultured meat will provide you with a comprehensive analysis that provides insight into the key players, technologies, challenges, opportunities, as well as a glimpse into the future of this exciting field. Click here to find out more.

© 2020 Supertrends

Bringing down the price tag of growth medium for cultivated meat

Header image: Cai Linton working in the lab (photo: Thomas Angus, Imperial College London)

Cultivated meat has the potential to replace butchered animals as the main future source of protein. New start-ups in this field are aiming not only to deliver the end products, but also to provide technologies.

When Cai Linton was introduced to the concept of cultivated meat in early 2019, he was excited about the opportunities presented by this potential revolution in the biosciences. He and his teammates, who are mostly still completing their college studies, decided to contribute to this new industry and apply their knowledge of state-of-the-art technology to help it grow.

Can a young start-up provide the solution to an old challenge?

After analyzing the technology basis of cultured meat, they decided to focus their research on the medium used for its cultivation. Growth medium is the main driver of the high cost involved in producing cultivated meat. Traditionally, fetal bovine serum (FBS), which is both expensive and fraught with ethical issues, has been used in growth media for biomedical products. Linton believes that a cheaper food-grade replacement with good performance must be found to meet the industry’s requirements in scaling up and getting the cost down.

Linton and his teammates are leveraging the extra support, both business-wise and in science-wise, from Imperial College London and are backed by IndieBio to get their product to market. So maybe this young start-up can indeed provide the solution to one of the most urgent challenges in commercializing cultivated meat.

Wanted: A high-performance, universally applicable, low-cost medium

Multus Media is working on three approaches to find a high-performance universal medium that can bring the price tag to below US$1 per liter. Their first product will be a serum replacement combining the ingredients contained in animal serum with those developed commercially or through academic research. By finding the most important ingredients and the right proportion, they hope to bridge the gap between existing serum-free and serum-based growth media.

Cultivated meat serum: 
Multus Biotechnology Limited
Multus Biotechnology Limited

The other two approaches that Multus Media is working on are using protein engineering on specific proteins and growth factors to find streamlined ways to produce these proteins quickly and cheaply. These mass-produced proteins and growth factors can then be incorporated into their growth medium formulation. At this stage, Linton and his team will be able to use their own food-grade, large scale-produced growth factors instead of the ones used by pharmaceutical companies.

Time to scale up

Based on our own analysis, Supertrends predicts that large-scale, worldwide production of cultured meat could happen around 2024 and 2025. Linton and his team are hoping to bring the price tag of growth medium below US$1 per liter in order to support the cultivated meat industry’s efforts to become price-competitive and scale up their production. This young start-up may indeed become one of the frontline players in the cultivated meat industry.

Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured meat’ to find out by when Linton and his team aim to bring down the price tag of growth medium to below US$1 per liter. Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2020 Supertrends

Financial investments in the cultured meat sector. Hype or real opportunity?

With widespread disruptions of the traditional supply chain of meat and the emergence of new technologies as well as an increasing sentiment toward animal welfare, cultured meat is emerging as a viable investment option in the future of protein.

Cultured meat (in-vitro meat, lab-meat, clean meat) is developed in bioreactors, taking just a few cells (biopsy) from a living animal and multiplying them under sterile conditions in order to obtain the final product – minced meat, filet, steak, etc. Pioneered by the Dutch university professor Mark Post in 2013, the idea soon speeded all over the word. Currently, there are research centers and companies active in this field on every continent, each competing for market share and trying to come up with a scalable product. 

Mathematical models and financial analysts predict that the cultured meat market has the potential to grow by US$200.21 million during 2020-2024[1], reaching US$593 million by 2032[2]. Futurists dare to push the envelope and predict the total collapse of the cattle industry by 2030[3].  

More conservative opinions predict that these trends will coexist for a while. As soon as cultured meat is produced on a larger scale, at a lower cost, and with improved nutritional content, traditional meat might become an exclusive and exquisite treat in high-end restaurants. 

Cultured meat, an attractive investment 

Investor interest has been rising dramatically over the last four years, ranging from investments of less than US$20 million in 2016 to over US$160 million in 2020[4]. The US is the country with the highest investments, mainly due to Memphis Meat’s most recent fundraising, which surpassed US$160 million. Despite its small size, Israel has managed to secure over US$37 million in investments. 

Most of the investments are in an early financing stage (seed phase), raising funds of up to  US$2 million and aiming to cover their research and product development expenses.  

Only six companies among those that chose to disclose their financial status are in the Series A funding rounds, securing up to US$10-15 million in exchange for equity, while only one company works towards a scalable business trying to market their products on a larger scale through Series B financing (average estimated capital raised of US$32 million). 

Funds raised by cultured meat companies between 2016 and 2020[4]  

…In conclusion 

Some cultured meat start-ups are financially supported by established companies, usually in a similar or tangential industry. For example, in its Series B funding round, Memphis Meat raised money both from venture capital companies, public persons (Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Kimbal Musk), but also from the food giant Cargill. Investing in cultured meat might prove useful for traditional meat producers as a back-up solution for situations such as the current COVID pandemic. 

As every emerging niche, cultured meat has both high potential as well as drawbacks. The current development phase of the industry is still relatively far away from the promised benefits. Problems such as consumer perception, scalability, energy consumption, taste, and appearance still need to be addressed. 

The Supertrends dynamic report on cultured meat addresses in greater depth the current financial landscape and future opportunities that cultured meat presents as an investment. For more information on the report and the option to receive a sample, click here.

© 2020 Supertrends


[1] TechNavio. 2019. Cultured Meat Market by Product and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2020-2024. Market Report, Toronto: Infiniti Research Limited.

[2] Markets and Markets. 2019. Cultured Meat Market by Source, End-User and Region – Global Forecast to 2032. Market Report, Hadapsar, India: MarketsandMarkets Research

[3] Tubb, Catherine, and Tony Seba. 2019. Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030. RetinkX.

[4] Swartz, Eliot. 2019. A Bit of Science. May 31. Accessed May 11, 2020. http://elliotswartz.com/.

Cultured Meat and the Agricultural Sector, Friend or Foe?

As global crises such as the COVID pandemic continue to affect supply chains and meat production facilities in the United States and across the world, could cultured meat be the future solution to the present issues faced by the agricultural sector?

The current COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the current status quo, forcing the society to reassess its activities and find alternative ways to create value. Traditional areas that during the pandemic were hardly hit or underwent a significant change could be now replaced or transformed forever. One such area is the agricultural sector. With supply chains interrupted and facilities upstream closed due to health risks, the need for an alternative to ease the impact for producers and retailers has been exacerbated.

Investing in cultured meat might prove useful for traditional meat producers as a back-up solution for situations such as the current pandemic, when several meat-packing plants had to be closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Traditional animal husbandry practices need to evolve to keep up with demand, but at the same time have the faculty to overcome issues without affecting the supply of these products.

Other issues that widespread implementation of cultured meat could ease are excessive land use for grazing and the overconsumption of water required for animal husbandry.

Other perceived advantages of cultured meat are:

  • It matches the global movement of buying locally. Regardless of reasons (national pride, support for the local economy, attempt to prevent transport generated pollution, impossibility to import goods because of a pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, etc.) cultured meat could be produced in each town’s suburb or even in each household.
  • It responds to the increased desire of people to maintain their health by controlling the nutritional value of the foods they consume. cultured meat might therefore eliminate the antibiotic resistance problem, foodborne bacterial diseases, and might end up being entirely customizable in terms of nutritional content.
  • It is the perfect example of sustainable production ticking the boxes for meaningful consumption, environmental protection, and animal welfare.
  • The production process could be highly digitalized, eliminating human error, imperfections, or contamination. With the possibility to control every aspect of the production process, cultured meat fits perfectly into the “food-as-software” trend, being entirely adjustable to the customer’s needs.

There are a few cultured meat start-ups that are financially supported by established companies, usually in a similar or tangential industry. For example, in its Series B funding round, Memphis Meat raised money both from venture capitals, public persons (Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Kimbal Musk), but also from the food giant Cargill. However, there are more companies that can attract further potential investment with promising proprietary technology that could propel cultured meat to a widespread market sooner than 2030, which is the predicted date for cultured meat’s market availability.

What this means to farmers and agricultural interests is that cultured meat can be the next step forward in the industry, instead of a threat to the existence of agriculture. Large scale investment in cultured meat technologies by established meat companies could be viewed as a visionary investment in a technology that could help shape the future of agriculture and food production.

While this is true for highly developed and urbanized areas, there are still doubts lingering as to how these technologies will affect agriculture and animal husbandry in non-industrialized countries.

Further in-depth information is available in the Supertrends on cultured meat dynamic report, which includes a comprehensive analysis that provides insight into the key players, technologies, and challenges to the future of cultured meat. Click here to find out more.

© 2020 Supertrends

Is India ready for lab-grown meat? (part 2)

India has been the fastest-growing major economy in the past few years. Within the next decades, India is also expected to surpass China and become the most populous country in the world. Can cultivated meat help to meet the country’s rising demand for protein? Varun Deshpande, Managing Director at Good Food Institute India, is quite confident that it will.

When Varun Deshpande started The Good Food Institute India in December 2017, his mission was to offer producers and consumers an alternative to industrial animal agriculture. Today, with the support of Varun and many others like him, start-ups working on alternative protein are revolutionizing India’s food ecosystem, and an entrepreneurial ecosystem is also taking shape. In an e-mail interview, Deshpande expressed optimism regarding the future development of cultivated meat in India. 

Supertrends: When do you expect cultured meat to become available on the Indian market? 

Varun Deshpande: As with the timelines for the global industry, the path to market for cultivated meat in India depends on regulatory frameworks and on the price of the final product. India is a very price-sensitive market with high chicken consumption (a meat typically priced more cheaply than red meats or other specialty meats), so we expect that cultivated meat may have a longer timeline to come to market in this country than in the rest of the world. The efforts of the Centre of Excellence (a partnership between the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, and the Good Food Institute India) and other work we are doing promise to accelerate that timeline, so that we can deliver affordable, sustainable protein to a growing population as soon as possible. 

In India, culture plays an important role in food consumption. What is or will be the social response to cultured meat in India? 

Early studies indicate promisingly high theoretical acceptance from consumers. Our cross-country survey of consumer acceptance regarding plant-based and cultivated meat (Bryant et al., Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 2019) indicates 56 percent of Indian consumers would be very or extremely likely to purchase cultivated meat regularly – and since increased familiarity with these foods tends to drive up that acceptance rate, you can expect that India will have a big market for cultivated meat over time. This is very heartening when you consider the rising protein demand in the country over the next decades – we will need to provide affordable, sustainable, delicious protein at scale to satisfy over a billion meat-eating Indians. 

What do you think are the advantages and challenges for the future of cultured meat in India? 

India’s advantage has always been the availability of excellent, resourceful talent, and our disadvantage has always been the enabling ecosystem supporting that talent. The relative dearth of labs, research funding, degree programs, and patient deep-technology-oriented capital has traditionally meant India’s technologists and entrepreneurs have to be even more resourceful than other countries, or migrate to those other countries – which is very unfortunate. Cultivated meat does, however, benefit from India’s thriving pharmaceutical sector, which is expected to reach US$150 billion by 2025. We’ve already begun tapping into this sector and its proven track record in affordable, high-quality manufacturing. Indian companies are already producing growth factors for use by global companies to cultivate cells, for instance, and Indian entrepreneurs are already in conversation with established international companies in the space for partnership opportunities. GFI India’s work moving forward will center on building up the enabling ecosystem for rapid technology transfer and market development, for example by fostering participation from further biopharma companies, setting up further labs and research consortiums, and nurturing talent from universities to participate in the cultivated meat explosion. I’m deeply optimistic that we can bring unique value to the global ecosystem, particularly with our own team at GFI India, which is growing to include a Cultivated Meat Specialist (hiring now!). 

What is the impact of COVID-19 crisis for cultured meat industry in India? Will people stay away from all meat products, or will it be an opportunity for cultured meat? 

COVID-19 is accelerating the convergence towards animal-free supply chains globally, and resulting in tragic consequences for the legacy meat industry in India. The pandemic and its effects on consumer perception have meant that demand for chicken has temporarily fallen off a cliff, with farmers needing to cull their stock by burying chickens alive, thereby running tremendous losses. This mirrors recent worrying outbreaks of African swine fever and avian flu in the Indian meat supply. While cultivated meat companies like ClearMeat and research projects like the one at CCMB have needed to pause research work, the long-term prognosis for the sector remains hugely positive – it offers a means of resilience even to legacy animal meat producers who may want to future-proof their business. The drivers for consumers and businesses therefore align perfectly for cultivated meat to succeed in the country over time – but plenty of work remains to drive cost-parity and the enabling ecosystem first! 

Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured meat’ to find out when cultured chicken will be available on the Indian market. Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2020 Supertrends 

Africa’s future is innovation

With the arrival of the first cultured meat start-up in South Africa, when will cultivated meat make its debut on the Africa continent? Mzansi Meat Co. is one of the companies that could define Africa’s future.

Africa’s future is innovation

In 2019, the World Economic Forum published an article describing Africa’s future as innovation rather than industrialization. Can Africa seize the opportunity of the fourth industrial revolution, which is merging our physical, digital, and biological worlds? Will Africa’s dominant agricultural, extractive, and manufacturing industries be disrupted by advanced technologies? The answer could well be found with its innovative start-up companies.

In March 2020, motivated by the passion to do something that can have a positive impact on society, Jayson Van Der Walt and Brett Thompson co-founded Mzansi Meat Co., the first cultivated meat company in South Africa, and indeed on the entire African continent. Will Mzansi Meat represent the kind of innovation that could define Africa’s future? In an interview with Supertrends, the co-founders of Mzansi Meat discussed the potential market for their product, and the contribution they can make towards fostering innovation.

Aiming at talents from home

In the terms of technology challenges, Mzansi Meat faces similar hurdles as other industry players, such as the need for a serum-free medium or a bioreactor that can scale up production. Jayson Van Der Walt also acknowledged that their task might be more challenging logistically, since the company is located at the southern tip of Africa, far away from the world’s other high-tech hubs.

However, as South Africa has a well-developed technology sector of its own, he hopes that Mzansi Meat can form links with academics and research talents from home and neighboring African countries. “There are great talents to do this sort of work here. As the momentum increases, people will be more aware of the potential of the company. There will be a lot of interest from academia,” he added.

On consumer acceptance: The flip side is also an opportunity

Talking about how to convince consumers, Brett Thompson thinks that South Africa and the entire continent are in a unique situation. “Cultivated meat is such a new concept that it is not very well known in Africa. So we will have to figure out how to overcome the consumer barriers. I think we probably should communicate really well with the retailers, consumers, and the media. We want to be perceived as a food company, and not as a tech brand. We have the benefit of the fact that cultivated meat is not known in Africa and South Africa, so people have not had a chance to build up their defenses yet. Therefore, this flip side that not a lot of people know about cultivated meat is, at the same time, an opportunity”.

Producing meat for the African market

Western-style processed meat products like burgers, sausages, and nuggets are not as widely consumed in Africa, with the exception of the likes of South Africa. Ultimately, Mzansi Meat would like to produce meat with familiar textures that can be used in traditional African food. However, this is a massive challenge for every cultivated meat start-up. “We will always keep in mind that we want to produce meat that can be used in traditional food, but we also have to focus on what we can do at the moment, which is to produce minced beef, burger, or nuggets for the next few years,” Brett Thompson said.

Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured meat africa’ to find out when our experts and the Supertrends community predict Mzansi Meat will make their first burger in South Africa! Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2020 Supertrends

Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns? Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns? Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns? Does cultured meat have what it takes for high investment returns?

Investing in solutions for big problems

As a novel technology, will cell-based meat provide good investment returns? What will be the impact of COVID-19 on the future of food? When will a cultured meat company make its IPO debut? Few experts are better positioned than Andrew D. Ive, the founder and managing general partner for Big Idea Ventures, to answer these questions. 

It’s a chilly Wednesday morning in New York, and the coronavirus pandemic is in full swing. Since face-to-face meetings are still out of the question, I met up for a virtual walk with Andrew D. Ive, the founder and GP of Big Idea Ventures (BIV), which just kick-started their investment fund for plant- and cell-based protein start-ups.

Having grown up in both the UK and the US, Andrew spent most of his career building companies and teams. Now he wants to use his experience to make an even more positive impact. Or as he puts it, “I want my daughter to have a world which is better than the world I have lived in.”

Supertrends: BIV views both plant- and cell-based protein products as solutions for our future nutrition needs. Do you think plant- and cell-based protein companies are competitors in terms of being environmentally sustainable businesses?

Andrew D. Ive: We are all influenced by how we were brought up, our culture, and what kind of food we love. I think that over time, entrepreneurs and chefs will be able to create food that allows us to continue to have the same experiences, but in a healthier, more sustainable way. 

I see plant- and cell-based companies as providing different ways of achieving some of the solutions we need. Plant-based meat allows us to have very similar experiences as the original products. You can get plant-based meat with the same taste, texture, and experience as animal protein, but with a lower eco-footprint. Plant-based and cell-based proteins are similar in that sense. The main difference is that cell-based meat is not yet approved by the regulatory bodies as food for human consumption. I also think cell-based meat can be created from a technology perspective, but it still has to be accepted by consumers. What will happen in the next decade with consumer demand will be that people will begin to trust the cell-based meat system as being safer and healthier than the traditional animal livestock system. 

It may still take five years or more for cell-based meat to make a financial profit. As an investor, how do you view the return on investment for these companies?

Food production is just one of the many applications of cell-based technology. Another key area of application for cell-based protein is collagen and gelatin production. Gelatin can be used not only in food, but also in life science, photography, regenerative medicine, drug delivery and other areas. I think cell-based technology has the potential to be deployed across multiple markets above and beyond food. Let’s say the technology may take three to five years to be commercially viable in the food industry; it can also be commercially viable earlier than that in other applications to improve the quality of life.     

As an investor, I am prepared to wait five or six years to see a transformation in this multi-billion-dollar industry

Andrew D. Ive, the founder and GP of Big Idea Ventures

As far as food production is concerned, it is potentially transformative for the entire meat industry, which is a multi-billion-dollar business. As an investor, I am prepared to wait five or six years to be able to be a transform of a multi-billion-dollar industry, reduce our impact on the planet and potentially capture some of that value for the investors who help to create this new industry. The financial returns will be there from a financial perspective.  

Supertrends: What will be the impact of COVID-19 on the food industry?

COVID-19 made us look at the food industry in a different way. It made us realize how fragile our food system is, both domestically and internationally. For countries that rely on their neighbors to provide food and raw ingredients, the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted their concerns about food security. It has made us realize that life is not as predictable and controllable as we originally thought. In that sense, the only technology that can get you to self-sufficiency in protein during a border lockdown period is cell-based technology. It’s relevant to governments, it’s a matter of a country’s security. If I am a country that relies on my neighbors to supply me with food, I will want a backup. That backup will likely be cell-based protein. 

Supertrends: When could we see the first IPO from a cultured meat company? 

Usually, from an IPO perspective, companies need to achieve significant revenues; for instance, US$100 million in annual revenues. It will be a long time before a cell-based meat company hits that kind of revenue based on their current business model and the stage of the technology life cycle. What I think will happen is that the market will be excited about the long term potential for cell-based meat technology and will be prepared to respond to an IPO and invest in a cell-based meat company even though it hasn’t hit a revenue threshold such as a US$100 million in revenue.

Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured meat’ to find out when Andrew D. Ive thinks the first cell-based meat company will make an IPO. Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2020 Supertrends

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