BioFarm is its non-GMO cell-based 3D bioprinting meat platform to cultivate whole-muscle steak.
It isolates cells from a healthy cow without slaughtering the animal, and mirrors the natural process of tissue regeneration by growing the cells in a plant-based matrix to form structured tissues of meat.
Aleph Farms initially started by producing commercial products, such as its thin-cut beef steaks but is now transitioning into its proprietary platform (BioFarm) suitable for mass cultivation.
CEO and co-founder Didier Toubia told FoodNavigator-Asia the pilot launch of BioFarm is planned for the end of 2022, with Japan and Singapore being ‘high on the list’ of target countries.
According to Toubia, Aleph Farms vision is to build a global platform for the local production of cultivated meat, “producing the meat when and where it is consumed.”
Toubia said one of the big challenges of cultivated meat is the ability to produce large quantities efficiently at a cost that can compete with conventional meat industry pricing, without compromising on quality.
“We have developed five patented technological building blocks unique to Aleph Farms that are put into a large-scale production process. We are establishing a new category of meat, imbued with its own culture and a new world of meaty experiences.”
Singapore was the first in the world to approve cell-based meat, specifically cell-based chicken ingredient for use in chicken bites. This occurred in December 2020 when the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) granted regulatory approval to San Franciso-based Eat Just.
In Japan, there are no regulations as of now, although, discussions are underway for both the product and process of cultivated meat.
Toubia said: “Each case (product and production process) goes through the different framework and regulatory pathways formalised by a specific country. In Japan, the discussions towards a formalised plan are in accelerated phases with the help of the Center of Rulemaking Strategies.”
“Regulators have been encouraging innovation and leading transparent dialogue with companies, including Aleph Farms, since early stages, in both product and process development.”
Aleph Farms is primarily targeting the food service channel first, and will enter the D2C retail space later.
MoU with Mitsubishi
In January, Aleph Farms signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mitsubishi Corporation’s Food Industry Group to explore the potential of cultivated meat in the increasingly meat-hungry Japan.
“This MoU implements specific action items on future consumer acceptance and regulatory pathways. The end goal would be to manufacture and market cultivated meat to the Japanese consumers,” Toubia explained.
He said: “Japan is one of the world’s densest populated countries with increasing demand for meat consumption, and while it has an incredibly robust economy, the third largest in the world, this nation of 127 million people relies on importing over 60% of its food and resources.”
“Cultivated meat can be produced locally without relying on the availability of local natural resources (land, water) and with a significantly reduced carbon footprint (for beef). Integrating cultivated meat in existing livestock farms can also be a motivation for the younger farmers generation to stay in the industry.”
Aleph Farms will provide its BioFarm manufacturing platform, while Mitsubishi will provide expertise in biotechnology, branded food manufacturing and local distribution channels in Japan.
The detailed strategy for entering the Japanese market is still under development.
In October 2020, Aleph Farms announced the launch of ‘Aleph Zero’, a new food production initiative attempting to cultivate non-GMO meat on planet Mars. Earlier, Alep Farms also collaborated with Russian firm 3D Bioprinting Solutions to produce meat on the International Space Station.
Aleph Farms is backed by Cargill, Migros, and the Strauss Group.