While there are still no final products on the market and available to buy, there is a growing number of cellular agriculture companies promising to revolutionise the food industry with animal-free meat, dairy and eggs.
Clara Foods is working producing on animal-free egg whites, Finless Foods on seafood, Supermeat on chicken, Mosa Meat on beef, Perfect Day on dairy products and Mission Barns on animal fat, to name but a few.
The non-profit Cellular Agriculture Society aims to promote the area of cellular agriculture. FoodNavigator caught up with its founder and president Kristopher Gasteratos at IFT last month where he spoke on the subject.
“There are two separate choices here [between traditional and cellular agriculture] and one of them, still in the theoretical stage, has exceptional benefits over the traditional system in some of the biggest problems it solves – animal welfare, climate change, environmental issues overall and public health.”
“It just seems that the pros far outweigh the cons. There could be something we’re missing but I think what it takes is being transparent," Gasteratos said.
'We are doing this to solve serious world problems'
“It’s not about doing cellular agriculture for the sake of doing it, it’s doing it to solve serious world problems, and until solving those problems doesn’t seem to align so closely with cell ag, we will keep pushing it.
“If there was ever a day that a company like Impossible Foods was legitimately making the entire world vegan because everyone was eating their plant-based products and solving all those problems, I would happily dismantle CAS. We do it to solve issues and all the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction.”
The Cellular Agriculture Society recognises that it will have to work with the meat industry and agriculture workers to make the transition from traditional meat and dairy sectors to cellular agriculture without generating massive unemployment.
To this end, it is leading a Transition Initiative.
The market analyst: 'This is very powerful'
It is difficult to gauge consumer attitudes to cultured meat because, to date, none of the companies active in the space has actually commercialised any product. Any findings from surveys, therefore, remain hypothetical.
However, Patty Johnson, global food and drink analyst at market research company Mintel, believes consumers will be reactive.
She said: “If manufacturers are able to execute these lab-grown products at a cost that is competitive with the product that they are mimicking, I think this is very powerful. Essentially, these products will be clean label and provided they can make it through the regulatory area and food safety checks, they have a lot of potential.
“They are recognisable, clean label [and] have the potential to deliver additional health benefits too. [They] could be formulated to be higher in omega-3s, for instance, and deliver enhanced nutrition.
“There are still some question marks out there but some real potential as well,” she concluded.