Cultured meat is animal-free, real meat grown in the laboratory. Private investors are fueling the burgeoning cultured meat landscape: billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson have invested, as have large food companies, such as Tyson and Cargill.
Here are five reasons why such players may be investing in cultured meat:
1. Dramatically reduce the need for animals in our food supply chain
In 2018, over 72 billion animals were slaughtered to feed meat-hungry humans. Conventional industrial meat production exacts an enormous toll on animal welfare. By switching to cultured meats, which promises to provide the real meat experience without slaughtering any animals, the lives of countless chickens, cows, and other farmed livestock can be spared.
2. Mitigate global warming
Global greenhouse gas emissions from livestock makes up14.5% of all human-caused climate change. For every kilogram of beef protein produced, an equivalent amount of almost 300 kilograms of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. In comparison, the latest studies reveal cultured meat produced with renewable energy would have a significantly lower carbon footprint, roughly, 92% lower than beef, 52% lower than pork, and 17% lower than chicken. Therefore, shifting meat production from conventional to cultured may significantly reduce greenhouse gases and help slow down global warming.
3. Preserve natural resources
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found 33% of the world’s croplands are dedicated to feed production for farm animals; the livestock industry consumes 8% of the global water supply. It takes 16,000 liters of water to raise a kilogram of beef using traditional methods, where, by contrast, only 2500 liters are required to produce the same quantity of cultured beef. Vastly reducing the number of animals raised for human consumption means saving water and land resources for other needs, including crop production for human consumption.
4. Create meat where it is needed, ensuring food security
It’s not possible to raise cattle in many areas of the planet. Cultured meats, however, can be grown anywhere, including in extreme climates, small areas, and hard-to-reach places. Cultured meat is produced in a clean and controlled environment, where the risks of contaminations from dangerous pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella – serious issues in conventional animal agriculture– are minimized.
5. Invest in the future of food
The alternative meat industry is expected to reach over $1.8 trillion by 2040. The portion of the market occupied by cultured meat is anticipated to will grow from essentially 0% today to about 10% in 2030 and 35% by 2040.
Cultured meat offers a rare opportunity to experience the future of food—the technology-fueled movement for real meat that does not involve animal slaughter, reduces global warming, and can help feed more people more sustainably.