25th July 2022
Lab-grown sausages to go on sale in 2025
Meatable has become the latest company to reveal a new cultured food product – lab-grown sausages, which could offer a more sustainable and ethical choice for consumers in the near future.
Meatable is a Dutch food company aiming to deliver, at scale, cultivated meat that looks like, tastes like, and has the nutritional profile of traditional meat. Founded in 2018, it has brought together a team of experts with unique knowledge from fields including molecular biology, chemistry, tissue engineering, bioprocess development, food safety and food science. They have been developing a proprietary technology called "opti-ox" that enables the production of meat rapidly, sustainably, and without harming animals.
In recent years, many startup companies have joined the race to develop synthetic meat products. Meatable hopes to distinguish itself from competitors by the aforementioned opti-ox process. Rather than using foetal bovine serum, which is harvested from cattle foetuses, this takes a single cell from the umbilical cord of an animal. As such, Meatable says that "no harm is done" to the animal.
Following an initial investment of $10 million in 2019, Meatable gained $47 million in Series A funding last year. For the first time, it has now revealed images of lab-grown sausages during and after cooking.
"In the last few months, huge steps have been taken by the team to create the cultivated sausages which have the same structure, texture, glossiness and pronounced pork flavour that customers know and love," the company said in a statement. "The product even produces the signature sizzle in the pan, just like traditional sausages – this is because it isn't like meat, it is real meat."
If all goes well, Meatable hopes to begin selling these to consumers from 2025. The opti-ox process could eventually be used for beef and chicken products too, according to the company. It will reveal more details on its future products later this year.
"The main barriers to getting our product to market are down to regulation," explained Krijn de Nood, CEO, in an interview with TechCrunch. "It's not possible to sell cultivated meat products in most of the world. In the Netherlands, a motion was recently passed to enable the tastings of cultivated meat under controlled conditions. Once this passes into law, which we expect later this year, we hope to offer tastings to help refine and develop our products."
Each year, 375 million tons of traditional meat is produced globally. Demand is expected to continue growing by 2% each year until at least 2050, as the world's population approaches 10 billion, with people enjoying meat for its taste and as a great source of protein.
However, the industry is faced with enormous sustainability challenges, as well as ethical concerns. Feeding, rearing, slaughtering, and transporting livestock requires half of the world's harvests, 30% of Earth's land surface, one-third of available freshwater, and emits 15% of our greenhouse gas emissions.
With cultured meat being slaughter-free and requiring 92% fewer resources than conventional meat, companies such as Meatable could enable a huge and transformative change that leads to a more sustainable future for agriculture. Meat production is the single largest undisrupted market – valued at $1 trillion – with potential to become another "exponential" industry in the decades ahead.
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