ARTICLE

Cellular Agriculture: The Products Leading a Revolution

From the first cultured hamburger in 2013, cellular agriculture (‘cell ag’) will soon be available at a store near you! Cell ag refers to the field of growing animal products from cells instead of raising animals for them, and quite a few cellular agriculture companies are working to get their first products to market. While some actors and companies, like Dr. Mark Post of MosaMeat, believe that cultured meat will be on the market at the earliest by 2021, others are working to get to market faster [1]. This article will highlight some of the upcoming products in each sector and when to expect them!

Bolt Threads’ Silk Ties and Toques

Bolt Threads is a clothing startup that uses animal-free spider silk to make clothes. By using yeast to produce spider silk. Bolt Threads has already released a few products in limited amounts. In early 2017, Bolt Threads made the first spider silk necktie and sold 50 of them for $314 [2]! In December 2017, Bolt Threads partnered with the Best Made Company to make toques and released a limited amount of Bolt Threads x Best Made Caps of Courage [3]. Having received new investments of $123 million in January 2018 [4], let’s see what Bolt Threads makes this year!

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Would you wear a tie made from Bolt Threads’ spider silk?

Just Meat

Not everyone is waiting until 2021 to release cultured meat. In 2017, Josh Tetrick of Just (formerly Hampton Creek) announced that Just will release their first cultured meat product by the end of 2018! From being the last company to join the field, Just ambitiously wants to be the first one to have their product on the market. Just plans to initially release a cultured chicken product by the end of the year [5]. Let’s see what they can deliver!

Promotional video by Just about cultured chicken

Bioleather T-shirts

Modern Meadow is a company that uses cellular agriculture to grow animal-free leather to make clothes and other leather goods. Unlike conventional leather, Modern Meadow’s ‘bioleather’ is in liquid form (essentially, a liquid leather) that can be molded into different shapes and sizes [6]. Modern Meadow created a prototype t-shirt for its brand Zoa and displayed it at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and hope to have their first finished products released by 2019. It’s expected that high-end brands will be the first designers to incorporate their sustainable leather into production [7].

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Modern Meadow’s Zoa. A patchwork of mesh and cotton joined together by liquid bioleather

Finless Food and Bluefin Tuna

Finless Foods is the first company to use cellular agriculture to grow fish meat from cell cultures. Finless Foods plans to release a limited amount of its Bluefin tuna by the end of 2019 [8]. Bluefin tuna is a type of fish that has been overfished for so long that one Bluefin tuna usually costs over $100,000 in Japan [9]. Once production is scaled, Finless Foods can expand into producing cultured meat of other fish species also under threat from overfishing.

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A taste test of Finless Food’s Bluefin tuna

Animal-free Dairy Milk

Perfect Day Foods make cow-free dairy milk via cellular agriculture, and, instead of rushing into the milk aisle with their product, Perfect Day initially plans to sell their product to other businesses to use as an ingredient. Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi, the founders of Perfect Day, stated last year that they will have more information about which food manufacturers are rushing to buy their products in 2018 [10].

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Chicken-free Egg white

Very similarly, Clara Foods uses cellular agriculture to produce chicken-free egg white, and the founders Arturo Elizondo and David Anchel also plan to sell their product to other businesses to use as an ingredient [11]. With large corporations like McDonalds, Nestle, and Walmart committing to using ‘cage-free eggs’ in the next 5 to 10 years, it is possible that scaled production of egg whites via cell ag could provide a way of doing that [12].

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Looking to the future

Beyond these products that plan to be in the market by the end of next year, there are other companies that plan to have their own cell ag products released later on. For example, Memphis Meats, the first cell ag company to make cultured meatballs and poultry, plans to have their products on the market by 2021 [1]. Beyond any regulatory issues and other obstacles, one of the main hurdles ahead for cellular agriculture is scaling production to be commercially viable. Once that is developed, we are likely to see more cell ag products in the near future!

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Memphis Meat’s cultured meatball

Sources:

  1. Byrd, E. Clean Meats Path to Your Dinner Plate. 2016.
  2. Buhr, S. Bolt Threads debuts its first product, a $314 tie made from spiderwebs. 2017.
  3. BoltThreads. What we were up to in 2017. 2018 January 10, 2018 [cited 2018 February 14]; Available from: https://thespool.boltthreads.com/2018/01/10/look-back-2017/?utmsource=Twitter&utmcampaign=Year%20in%20Review.
  4. Buhr, S. Spider silk startup Bolt Threads closes on $123 million in Series D funding. 2018.
  5. Watson, E. Hampton Creek to enter clean meat market in 2018: ‘We are building a multi-species, multi-product platform’. 2017.
  6. Anzilotti, E. How Modern Meadow Is Fabricating The Animal-Free Leather Of The Future. 2017.
  7. Kansara, V.A. With Lab-Grown Leather, Modern Meadow Is Engineering a Fashion Revolution. 2017.
  8. Fleming, A. Could lab-grown fish and meat feed the world — without killing a single animal? 2017.
  9. Leber, J. Is Bluefin Tuna Grown in a Lab the Next Wave of Sustainable Seafood? 2017.
  10. Watson, E. Perfect Day in talks with food industry partners to commercialize animal-free dairy ingredients. 2017.
  11. Buhr, S. Clara Foods Cooks Up $1.7 Million In Funding To Make Egg Whites From Yeast Instead Of Chickens. 2015.
  12. DLD Conference, Feeding The World With Biotech (A. Lee, M. Viel, A. Elizondo, A. Lorestani, A. Kopelyan) | DLD 18, in DLD 2018 Conference, DLD, Editor. 2018.