What Should The CellAg Industry Focus On? CellAgriAsia Highlights
The CellAgriAsia conference played host to a range of speakers from different countries and companies, giving industry insights from many different perspectives. Here we share our three main takeaways:
1) Show us the science
The Cultivated Meat industry is still in its infancy, which always holds teething problems. Compared to more established industries such as pharmaceutical development, there is a lack of papers of substance which highlight the science behind how cultivated meat is produced. In part, this surrounds the issue of intellectual property – and the apprehension that surrounds highlighting patented technologies in a still nascent industry.
The lack of information from companies is also due to the fact there is still much to be worked out in detail. From cell lines to media to scaffolding to bioreactors… the list is ever-growing, and exact details in some cases still need to be worked out – which is only a matter of time. A growing interest in creating cross-industry partnerships will help to increase the scientific output of the industry.
Eat Just – the company behind the first cultivated meat consumer product on sale in Singapore – is slightly ahead of the curve. They are able to provide full nutritional profiles for their chicken, which no other company has done yet, on top of being the first to gain regulatory approval for a cultivated meat product.
2) Educate the public
“There is always going to be a demand for meat. This is a way to be disruptive and impactful.” – Vitor Espirito Santo (Eat Just).
For the past 30 years, the worldwide demand for traditional meat has grown. However, towards 2040, this trend could well start to reverse as cultivated meat products become more widely offered.
(Image: A.T. Kearny, Tech Crunch, 2021)
As part of this increasing demand for cultivated meat, there is a need to educate the public about what goes into the products they eat. With 30% of seafood sold being misrepresented, more information into food provenance also gives consumers greater ownership of the food they choose to eat.
The benefits of cultivated meat should be highlighted. It has a combination of the best attributes of both plant-based and conventional meats – environmental and social benefits, with the taste and texture of traditional cuts. As consumers look deeper into the environmental and social benefits offered, companies have a duty to give more information to consumers about their food.
Additionally, by giving consumers more information about what cultivated meat actually is, this can help fuel a change in wider eating habits. This will not be an instant change, however due to the length of time needed for scale up and/or regulatory approval, companies cannot wait for public demand before they start their scale up operations.
In part, companies like SuperMeat can play a vital role. The Chicken, their restaurant in Israel, combines the laboratory setting with bioreactors alongside a commercial restaurant for customers. By demystifying how the product is made, the public can better connect and understand what they are eating. Even B2B organisations, like us at Roslin Technologies, have a role to play in educating the consumer.
3) Where’s the next big location?
Currently, Singapore is a hotbed of innovation – and holds the title for the first (and currently only) approval of a cultivated meat product. Where could the next area of breakthrough come?
The US, Europe, and other Asian countries were all highlighted as the potential next places to bring cultivated meat to the masses. In Singapore, 91% of restaurant operators are open to cultivated meat on their menu, and this is reflected across consumers as well. However, the US consistently has one of the highest consumptions of meat per capita, which could make it a fertile market to launch the approved cultivated meat products.
Does the Singaporean enthusiasm for cultivated meat replicate across other countries? Time will tell, and the larger challenge is more ‘when’ than ‘where’.
The time needed to create a cultivated meat consumer product was a major factor mentioned by many speakers. From the time taken to get to the stages they are at now (through research and development to have a viable product at protype level)., through to the time needed to build pilot plants, scale up their operations, or seek regulatory approval for their products.
It may be that due to a current lack of infrastructure needed for large scale-up opportunities, the next big area of cultivated meat is somewhere that is able to repurpose existing infrastructure to speed the process along.
Throughout the conference, the message was clear. Cultivated meat is about building the future today – offering a method of ethical and sustainable protein production, and communicating with the public to ensure there is an understanding of why this is so vital for the future.
At Roslin Tech, we offer induced pluripotent cell lines for use in the Cultivated Meat industry. Find out more information on our dedicated page.