Asked to define cultivated meat, with which many U.S. consumers are still unfamiliar, Andrew Noyes, VP and head of global communications and public affairs for Eat Just, described it as “safe, delicious, high-quality meat made from animal cells instead of slaughtered animals. [It’s] made by sourcing a small amount of animal cells from high-quality poultry or livestock. We then feed those cells nutrients, including amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins — the same types of nutrients animals need to grow and multiply. These nutrients, known as the growth medium, grow the cells into meat. The entire process takes place in a safe and controlled environment much like a beer brewery.”
Adds Noyes: “Instead of growing the entire animal, we only grow what is eaten. This means we use fewer resources in growing meat, and we can be more efficient, completing growth in weeks rather than months or years. Then, the harvested product can be used by chefs in multiple final formats, from less structured crispy chicken nugget bites, savory chorizo and sausages, to more textured products such as shredded chicken or grilled chicken breasts. In the future, GOOD Meat will pursue other types of meat, including beef and pork.”
Challenges to widespread adoption remain, however. “Commercialization and large-scale production require substantial investments in scientific and technical expertise to reduce the cost of the nutrients needed to feed the cells and build much larger cultivators (or bioreactors) to grow the meat,” admits Noyes, who notes that GOOD Meat has partnered with two companies to help overcome these hurdles: ABEC Inc., to design, manufacture, install and commission the largest known bioreactors for avian and mammalian cell culture, and international nutrition company ADM, to lower key costs related to cultivated meat production.
As for when these products will be available in the United States, that depends on the FDA and USDA, with which companies like GOOD Meat are currently going through the regulatory process. “The first approvals of cultivated meat by U.S. regulators will be a watershed moment for the food industry and for whichever companies are first to receive approval,” says Noyes. “We hope that happens soon and that GOOD Meat is among the first to enter the market here. We have seen firsthand the enthusiasm expressed by Singaporeans who are enjoying our cultivated chicken today — and we can’t wait to bring this innovative new type of meat to American consumers.”
Whether they’re grown in a lab from animal cells or created from plant-based ingredients, it seems clear that alternatives to conventional chicken and pork, as well as other animal proteins, will continue to roll out at retail, offering more choices in more forms than ever before.
“I see the next phase in alternative proteins focusing on cleaner labels, fewer ingredients and generally more healthy options,” predicts Misfits Market’s Litwin. “Now that it’s been proven that alternative meats can be produced at a large scale, it will be important to show that these alternatives are actually good long-term replacements not just for the earth, but for our bodies, too.”