PoultryUSA - June 2018 - 30
30 ❙ WATTPoultryUSA
An ongoing challenge in growing tissue is developing
thickness. The tissues are not vascularized, Mozdziak
said, so the serum used to grow the cells cannot get to the
center of a dense chunk of tissue. Without vascularization, growing large pieces of meat is exceedingly difficult.
Making a more complicated cut of meat requires vascularization as well as the ability to synthesize the other elements of what makes meat.
The second major hurdle is the cost of the process. In
March 2017, an article in The Wall Street Journal on startup Memphis Meats said its technology creates a pound of
chicken meat for "less than $9,000." Mozdziak said key
contributors to the high price tag are the necessary infrastructure: cellular serum and media, laboratory facilities,
and a bioreactor where tissue can be grown.
If someone develops a process and is able to scale it,
this will help with costs. Even then, the price of cellular
media will still contribute to a higher cost than conventional meat products.
"It's going to be a long time, in my humble opinion
with my 25 years of cell culture experience, before its
anywhere near what the cost of classically raised meat
is," Mozdziak said.
This microscopy shows cultured pork fibroblasts
- the connective tissue that produces collagen.
Research on fibroblasts could be useful in culturing
connective tissue in complex cuts of meat in the
future. Jess Krieger, New Harvest Research Fellow
science and technology for the Good Food Institute (GFI),
said a product may be available in a high-end restaurant
within three to five years, could be commercially available
in five years and price competitive within the next 10 to 15
years. Welch said the GFI is an accelerator for, and promoter of, plant-based foods and the cultured meat sector.
Welch's confidence stems from the proof offered by
startup companies, like Memphis Meats, that it is already
possible to create the product on a small scale. There's no
"huge red flag" showing the technology does not
exist, he said, and the science community, with
Study: US consumers leery of lab-grown
expertise in stem cell work and culturing human
tissue, is moving into the meat sector, too. The
other key ingredient, Welch said, is more money
lining up behind the product.
How far away is a competitive product?
Erin Kim, communications director for cellular agriculOpinions differ on how soon a product may debut,
ture research group New Harvest, was more skeptical and -
but there is agreement that the product won't be publicly
citing organizational policy - declined to make predictions.
available for several years.
However, she said the research surrounding the product
Mozdziak said a demonstration product could be availis limited, as is the funding to support it, and that shows
able in three to five years. But, something that will be
in the current lack of any kind of product. New Harvest, a
price competitive and widely available could be as far as
nonprofit group involved in advancing cellular agriculture
20 to 30 years away. An important factor worth considerresearch, is providing funding for Mozdziak's research.
ing is whether the product will be a mix of muscle tissue
"We've seen a lot of talk, a lot of predictions about
and plant-based proteins that's sold as cultured meat, or
the market availability," Kim said. "But it's 2018 now and
something more complex.
there still is no cultured product whether it is chicken, or
Citing others in the sector, Dr. David Welch, director of
beef or something else. I think that says a lot." ■
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ June 2018