The world’s first lab-grown beef burger is seen during an event in London in 2013 [David Parry/Reuters]
A Dutch company that presented the world’s first lab-grown beef burger five years ago said it has received funding to pursue its plans to make and sell artificially grown meat to restaurants in 2021.
Maastricht-based Mosa Meat, which has in the past received more than $1m from Google co-founder Sergey Brin, said it hopes to sell its first products – most likely ground beef for burgers – in the next three years.
The aim is to achieve industrial-scale production two to three years later, with a typical hamburger patty costing about $1.
Several companies are looking into cultured meat or meat substitute products aimed at consumers concerned about the environmental and ethical impact of raising and slaughtering animals.
Test-tube burgers and the future of meat
Environmentalists have warned the world’s growing appetite for meat, particularly in emerging economies such as China, isn’t sustainable because beef, pork and poultry require far greater resources than plant-based proteins. Cows in particular also produce large amounts of the greenhouse gas methane that contributes to global climate change.
The big challenge is making meat that looks, feels and tastes like the real thing.
Mosa Meat uses a small sample of cells taken from a live animal. Those cells are fed with nutrients so they grow into strands of muscle tissue. The company claims it could make up to 80,000 burgers from a single sample.
With a number of startups and established players hoping to make cultured meat on a large scale in the coming years, a battle has broken out over the terms used to describe such products.
Some advocates have claimed the term “clean meat”, while opponents in the traditional farm sector suggest “synthetic meat” is more appropriate.
Mosa Meat said it raised $8.8m, mainly from Bell Food Group and M Ventures, an investment vehicle for German pharmaceuticals company Merck KGaA. Bell Food is a European meat processing company based in Switzerland.