Factory farming was instrumental in helping meet the world’s demand for animal protein during the 20th century. As we move forward into the 21st, we should reflect on the impacts of factory farming and question how we will create a sustainable future. While there is likely a place for all types of animal agriculture in the coming decades, more meat buyers are considering the negative externalities of conventional meat production, including use of antibiotics and hormones in animal husbandry.
Buzzwords like “cage free,” “hormone free,” and “grass fed” are all designed to help humans feel better about consuming animals. Yet people are becoming more educated of our food supply chains and changing their food habits as a result. The exploding growth of vegetarian and vegan foods and restaurants highlights the growing trend of people actively seeking alternatives to animal sourced meat. No wonder US sales of plant-based foods increased by 27% in 2020—a whopping $7 billion!
A late 2020 study by market research firm Packaged Facts called Vegan, Vegetarian, and Flexitarian Consumers provides a snapshot of American consumers. It shows the number of Americans identifying as vegan (3%), pescatarian (3%), or vegetarian (5%) has not changed significantly in recent years. The real growth lies in the number of “flexitarians”, who now number 36%. Unlike traditional omnivores (53%), flexitarians eat meat or poultry but regularly include fully vegetarian or vegan meals in their diets.
We believe given cleaner and more sustainable options to farmed meats, flexitarians, omnivores, and potentially even vegetarians and vegans will consider cultured meat as it does not involve animal slaughter.
Enter Meat 2.0. That’s what we’re calling the product MeaTech is developing.
Rather than conventionally raising and slaughtering animals for beef, MeaTech’s proprietary meat production processes will grow real meat from a small number of stem cells in an ultra-clean environment. We believe our proprietary 3D bioprinters will allow us to achieve beef structures like steak by precisely printing layers of fat and muscle cells as they would be found in a conventional cut of meat. After bioprinting, the printed material is allowed to “cure” in an incubator and mature from cells into structured tissue. While it may sound like a science experiment, the result is a real piece of meat, laboratory grown in immaculate conditions, that retains the look, taste, mouthfeel, and consistency meat lovers are accustomed to.
The MeaTech process creates the “perfect meat” because it’s cruelty-free and grown without antibiotics or hormones. What you see is truly what you get. Because it is grown from ethically-harvested bovine cells, it is real protein-rich meat, not a “tastes-like” plant-based processed substitute.
The technology also offers the potential for customizing meats to address dietary needs, like lower fat, lower cholesterol, higher fat for flavor, or other attributes customers may desire. Moreover, Meat 2.0 can be grown in months rather than years, while using far fewer natural resources like water and farmland cultivated solely to feed cattle.
Meat 2.0 truly has the power to change the food chain, feed underfed populations, help preserve precious natural resources, and slow the speed of climate change. In our minds, that’s pretty perfect.