The cultured meat industry passed a key milestone in June 2023 - two companies, GOOD Meat and UPSIDE Foods, received approval to begin the commercialization of their cultivated chicken products in the USA. Cultivated meat, or cultured meat, refers to meat products produced from lab-grown animal cells and is proposed as a solution for some of the environmental and ethical issues associated with meat consumption. IDTechEx have been following the cultured meat industry for the past four years, and in its most recent report, "Cultured Meat 2023-2043", forecasts the market to exceed US$13 billion by the year 2043. So, with this key milestone of US regulatory approval achieved, what is next for the industry over the next few years?
Small Scale Launches
To start, both GOOD Meat and UPSIDE Foods are looking at small-scale launches in the US. GOOD Meat has partnered with Chef José Andrés, who will first be serving up GOOD Meat's cultivated chicken in Washington, DC. UPSIDE Foods has similarly partnered with three-Michelin-star chef Dominique Crenn and will be launching in San Francisco.
This echoes GOOD Meat's launch in Singapore, where cultured meat has been approved and commercialized since December 2020. In Singapore, GOOD Meat launched with a hybrid product (a blend of plant-based and cultured protein) which was available at a single restaurant, the 1880 Members Club. By 2023, the company has scaled up the amount of cultured meat in their products and featured them at various restaurants. While availability remains limited, the company is on its way to scaling up production further on the island.
IDTechEx predicts that the availability of cultured meat will continue to be limited in the next 2 years. On the production side, companies are still scaling up their manufacturing capabilities and are yet unable to supply large amounts to the market. On the demand side, it is unclear how much of a premium customers are willing to pay for cultivated meat vs. conventional meat. Launching cultured meat at high-end restaurants has been the main strategy companies have used to address this price differential.
Expansion Into Other Markets
With the approval by the USDA in June, the US joins Singapore as the only other country where cultured meat is approved and commercialized. Looking to the horizon, IDTechEx predicts that the next country to approve cultured meat will be in Asia, with South Korea and China being the key contenders. Despite the Netherlands being the home of the world's first cultured beef burger in 2013, regulatory approval in Europe is unlikely to be next. While tasting cultured meat products is allowed in select European countries, companies will need to secure regulatory approval at the EU level first for commercialization. This is a long and lengthy process.
Scaling Up and Driving Costs Down
Further work is required by the cultured meat industry and its entire supply chain to address the problem of scaling up production. A key component for producing cultured meat, the growth media, is currently the main contributor to its high cost. Today, companies use high-end ingredients meant for the pharmaceutical industry, where quantities are small and products are extremely high-value. Work is underway from multiple angles to address this issue, including decreasing the amounts required for meat production, creating food-grade ingredients at lower cost, and designing new bioreactors allowing for a higher density of cells per volume of growth media.
It will be a long road for the cultured meat industry to take substantial market share from conventional meat, with the recent approval in the US being just the first step. IDTechEx sees the cultured meat market accelerating by the start of the next decade as more and more start-ups receive regulatory approval and commercialize over the next few years.
For more information on the cultured meat industry, please refer to the IDTechEx report at www.IDTechEx.com/culturedmeat.