Pioneering Lab-Grown Poultry: A Game-Changer in the Meat Industry
June 22, 2023
United States regulatory bodies have made a historic decision by granting approval for the commercialization of chicken grown from animal cells. This groundbreaking move could create a pathway for numerous enterprises aspiring to venture into the lab-grown meat industry. The Department of Agriculture has approved two California-based companies, Upside Foods and Good Meat, allowing them to market what is termed “cell-cultivated” or “cultured” meat and poultry. This endorsement follows the FDA’s safety certification of these products a few months prior and introduces a new protocol where the USDA will supervise lab-grown meat facilities, mirroring its oversight of traditional slaughterhouses and processing plants.
Reinventing Meat Production: The Science and Stakeholders
The authorization could initiate a new era of meat production that competes with the burgeoning #plantbased industry. Cultivated meat is typically produced in stainless steel containers known as bioreactors using cells derived from a living animal, a fertilized egg, or a specialized cell bank. Upside Foods, for instance, generates large sheets of these cells and shapes them into popular meat cuts like chicken cutlets and sausages. Good Meat, known for producing items like nuggets and satays, already retails cultivated meat in Singapore, the first country to approve this technology back in 2020.
Investors have shown interest in the cultured meat market, with Tyson Foods (TSN) making early investments in Upside Foods, while Steakholder Foods (STKH) focuses primarily on this sector. Furthermore, the potential expansion of the lab-grown meat market could attract other industry giants such as Hormel (HRL), JBS (OTCQX:JBSAY), Bridgford (BRID), Sysco (SYY), and Pilgrim’s Pride (PPC).
Pros, Cons, and Public Perception of Lab-Grown Meat
Proponents argue that lab-grown meat significantly reduces the likelihood of infection from pathogens like E. coli, which are often found in traditional processing plants. Additionally, they suggest that the use of cultured meat limits exposure to antibiotics by eliminating the need for farm animals, thus reducing harm to animals and potentially benefiting the environment. Critics, however, counterargue that cultivated meat could require more energy inputs and potentially produce more greenhouse gases.
Executives at Upside and Good Meat emphasize that their products should be recognized as meat, distinguishing them from plant-based substitutes such as the Impossible Burger (IMPF) or offerings from Beyond Meat (BYND). Despite this, consumer surveys reveal initial apprehensions about the concept, along with concerns about the high costs associated with mass-producing lab-grown meat. Consequently, these innovative products will initially only be available in select high-end restaurants. Industry experts predict it will take approximately seven to ten years before lab-grown meat gains a significant presence in grocery stores.