ARTICLE

June 2019: The Month in Review

Following all the developments in May, June continued cellular agriculture’s strong start to the summer. Compared to conventional livestock agriculture, cellular agriculture (cell ag) offers a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way to meet the growing demand for animal products. Instead of using animals, cellular agriculture involves using cell cultures to produce animal products, like seafood and dairy products. From the first cell-based salmon taste test to new startups and reports, this article takes a look at what happened this June in cellular agriculture.

Cell-based salmon, anyone?

This month, Wild Type made history by showcasing the first ever cell-based salmon dinner in Portland, Oregon. From salmon tartare to salmon sushi rolls, Wild Type displayed that cell-based salmon can be as versatile as conventional salmon.

Based in San Francisco, California, Wild Type focuses on producing cell-based salmon using cellular agriculture. Founded by Justin Kolbeck and Aryé Elfenbien, cell-based seafood offers a sustainable solution to meet the global fish demand without further depleting global fish populations. Cell-based seafood also offers a way to increase transparency and traceability in the obscure seafood supply chain.

Wild Type’s event was the second cell-based seafood tasting this year. In March, Singapore-based Shiok Meats showcased the first cell-based shrimp dumpling.

Cell-based salmon and shrimp. What cell-based meat tastings will the rest of the year bring?

Meat Companies Go Plant-Based

Following Beyond Meatsincredible public offering in May, many meat companies announced their plans to enter the plant-based food space. This month, Tyson Foods, Perdue Foods, and Nestle all announced plans to launch their own plant-based product lines. Tyson Foods launched its Raised & Rooted brand while Perdue Farms launched its Chicken Plus line. Nestle also announced they will launch a plant-based Awesome burger.

Unlike the Beyond or Impossible burgers, it’s interesting to note that some of these products from Tyson and Perdue are a hybrid blend of meat and plant-based protein, and not entirely plant-based. For example, one of Raised & Rooted’s products is a hybrid blend of pea protein and Angus beef. Could this lead to confusion over what products are entirely plant-based and those that are hybrid?

Regardless, the uptake of plant-based products by meat companies is promising. If they’re open to launching a plant-based product today, will they be open to launch their own cell-based meat products in the future?

IndieBio’s Class 8 Demo Day

June marked IndieBio’s Class 8 Demo Day. Based in San Francisco, IndieBio is a leading life science accelerator program that helps turn scientists into entrepreneurs. From their very first class, IndieBio has played an important role in commercializing cellular agriculture. From Geltor and Memphis Meats to Finless Foods and New Age Meats, IndieBio has supported many cell ag companies.

IndieBio’s Class 8 Demo Day showcased their latest cell ag startup: New Culture Foods, a startup that uses cellular agriculture to make dairy cheese without requiring cows. We had the chance to speak to Matt Gibson, co-founder and CEO of New Culture, ahead of Demo Day to learn more about New Culture and how he got involved in cell ag (from as far as New Zealand).

Cell-based Meat Will Disrupt the Market

Consultancy firm AT Kearney released a report predicting that, by 2040, the majority of meat consumed will not come from animals. It will come from both cell-based meat and plant-based meat products. According to the firm, the heavy environmental cost to produce conventional animal products will attract more people to take up alternatives like cell-based meat and lead the movement towards the future of food.

While plant-based products will initially be more popular than cell-based meat (after all, they’re already on the market), AT Kearney predicts that, in the long term, cell-based meat will be more popular. According to the firm, by 2040, cell-based meat will hold approximately 35% of the meat market while plant-based meat alternatives hold 25% of the market.

Regarding public perception and acceptance of cell-grown products, the report refers to a global consumer survey published in February that shows high acceptance of both cell-based meat and plant-based meats in China and India. It is important to note the limitations of the survey. Only 1,000 people in urban populations were surveyed in both India and China to predict the nations’ responses. It’s hardly enough to predict how an entire nation will respond to a new food product. In addition, in China, the phrase ‘clean meat’ was translated to ‘purity meat’, highlighting another limitations of the survey.

Cell Ag Makes Crunchbase’s Hot 50 Tech List

Crunchbase released their list of top tech companies for the year 2019, and it featured 3 companies using cellular agriculture to change the future of food: Aleph Farms, Clara Foods and Wild Earth. While the list focused on tech companies, it’s promising that three cell ag foodtech companies make the list. In May, both Aleph Farms and Wild Earth announced that they raised their Series A rounds of $12 million and $11 million, respectively. In April, Clara Foods announced that the company raised its Series B round of funding.

Conclusion

In April, Good Food Institute Executive Director Bruce Friedrich spoke at the TED Talk event in Vancouver, Canada. Friedrich spoke about how both cell-based meats and plant-based meats will be needed to provide a sustainable way to produce meat without devastating the environment.

With the first cell-based salmon taste test and a growing number of meat companies launching their own plant-based brands, June marked a strong push towards a more sustainable future of food.

It is interesting to note that June 2019 was the first month this year where no cellular agriculture company announced new funding. Up until June, there had been a new investment announced every month in 2019. There could be many reasons for this, such as being in the process of raising a round.

July marks the New Harvest 2019 Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 19th and 20th. New Harvest is the main nonprofit organization in the field that funds primary research on cellular agriculture. Having attended the conference last year, looking forward to attending as a media partner this year. From researchers to new startups, looking forward to meeting everyone interested in the future of food.