This week marks ten years since Dr. Mark Post (CSO and co-founder of Mosa Meat) and his team unveiled the world’s first cultivated beef burger, which took over two years to develop and cost €250,000. The burger, created by growing stem cells from cows, was showcased at a tasting event in London on the 5th of August, 2013.
“Cultivated meat has moved from the tiny prototype I worked on to become a global industry”
To celebrate this watershed moment in food history, the Good Food Institute has shared some of the most significant milestones of the cultivated meat industry on its path to becoming a reality.
Ten years later
“Cultivated meat is very much a European innovation. Its foundations were laid by French and Dutch scientists, and this week marks ten years since the Netherlands’ Dr. Mark Post traveled to London to present his pioneering beef burger to the world,” comments Alex Mayers, MD of the Good Food Institute Europe.
“The progress made over the past decade is remarkable – but we’re still a long way off making this sustainable option available to everyone. With other parts of the world beginning to race ahead, the EU and national governments must invest in cultivated meat to ensure its benefits are felt here in Europe,” adds Mayers.
Lowering costs and scaling production
In 2020, US cultivated meat startup GOOD Meat, a subsidiary of Eat Just, became the first company in the world to receive regulatory approval to sell cultivated chicken in Singapore. The company has achieved various biomanufacturing milestones to lower the cost of cultivated chicken — today, a chicken skewer is available for just $14 in Singapore.
In May, Mosa Meat opened a new facility in Maastricht as it prepared for market entry with its first commercial product: cultivated burgers. Throughout the years, the company has overcome various biomanufacturing challenges, including developing a cell feed without fetal bovine serum in partnership with Nutreco and establishing a process for cell attachment without scaffolds.
Cultivated chicken in the USA
This June, UPSIDE Foods and GOOD Meat received regulatory approval in the US. For the first time, consumers in the country will be able to taste cultivated meat; Chef José Andrés is launching GOOD Meat’s chicken in his China Chilcano Restaurant this summer, and Chef Dominique Crenn will serve UPSIDE Foods’ novel chicken at Bar Crenn in San Francisco from August.
Scientific breakthroughs and sustainability
Dutch startup Meatable claims to have developed Opti-ox, a technology that allows the company to produce cultivated meat at scale — including sausages in just eight days.
In a recent study published in a peer-reviewed journal, researchers say that renewable energy-powered cultivated meat has the potential to significantly decrease climate emissions by up to 92% when compared to conventional beef. Additionally, it could reduce air pollution by as much as 94% and require up to 90% less land usage.
Cultivated meat in Europe
According to GFI, over 150 companies globally are involved in developing and producing cultivated meat and seafood. Approximately 50% are located in Europe.
Over the last few years, European governments have been supporting the industry even if cultivated meat is not yet available for consumers. The Dutch government announced a record €60 million for a cellular agriculture fund last year, and the UK invested £12 million in a research center for cultivated meat this April. According to GFI, private investments in European cultivated meat companies increased by 30% to reach €120 million last year.
Regarding novel foods approvals, the Israeli company Aleph Farms has initiated the regulatory approval process to commercialize its premium Angus-style thin cultivated steak in Switzerland — the first-ever submission of its kind for cultivated meat in Europe. And the Netherlands has become the first European country to allow cultivated meat and seafood tastings.
“It’s incredible to think in the space of a decade, cultivated meat has moved from the tiny prototype I worked on to become a global industry and a food people can enjoy on two continents, recognized and endorsed by renowned chefs like José Andrés and Dominique Crenn,” comments Richard McGeown, the chef that cooked the world’s first cultivated burger in 2013.
“We’ve only scratched the surface of what we’re able to do with cultivated meat and I’m very excited to see further progress over the next decade. I believe I’ll be serving it to people in Cornwall – who will eat it not because it’s a novelty but because it’s delicious,” McGeown adds.