Over 80 startups are working on developing cell-cultured meat, and they have collectively raised over $800 million in funding. But their success will depend on their products gaining regulatory approval — the subject of a new report by Lux Research.
Late last year, Singapore became the first country ever to allow the sale of cell-cultured meat when it approved Eat Just’s chicken bites. In November, Israel’s SuperMeat began serving cell-cultured chicken at its test kitchen, though this was only permitted for development purposes and the product does not yet have regulatory approval.
More recently, another Israeli company, Future Meat, opened what it claims is the world’s first industrial scale cell-cultured meat facility, hoping this would speed up regulatory approval.
Despite this progress, cell-cultured companies in most countries will still have to overcome hurdles to get their products on the market. But change is happening — for example, the USDA and the FDA have agreed to join forces to create a regulatory framework for cell-cultured meat approval in the US. This framework will only cover cultured meat — the FDA will have sole responsibility for regulating seafood. These agreements have led to speculation that it may not be long before cell-cultured products are approved in the US.
“I think that the United States could very well be one of the next countries to grant approval, especially for seafood,” said researcher Harini Venkataraman, the author of the new report. “Because it falls solely under the FDA, and because we’ve seen some developments from companies like BlueNalu in terms of getting cell-based seafood to the market, I imagine seafood regulation may be faster than beef and some of the other types of products we’re looking at.”
Gaining approval in the EU is likely to be more challenging, taking 18 to 24 months under the Novel Food regulation. Due to these challenges, some EU-based cell-cultured companies are looking to initially launch their products elsewhere.
China and Japan are also working to develop regulatory frameworks for cell-cultured meat, though it isn’t clear how long it may take for products to be approved.
“Singapore’s regulatory approval is a positive development in the industry that sets the stage for other countries to follow suit,” said Venkataraman. “Although countries like Singapore and Israel have favorable regulatory landscapes, these small markets will not be enough for widespread adoption and market penetration. Larger nations will need to remove regulatory barriers to unlock a mass market.”