Problems and prospects for the production of Cultured Meat
Scientists around the world work every day and develop new technologies to make people's lives better.
April 19, 2021
Each new invention goes from prototype to final product. How long the journey will take depends on the inventors themselves, the existing technology, and investors' support.
The technology for the production of cultivated meat is still new and has not become widespread. But scientists are working on solving existing problems and planning the further development of the technology several steps forward.
So what are the challenges to make this product mainstream?
In the previous article, we wrote about "what is cultivated meat?" Recall that, unlike vegan plant meat, cultured meat consists of complete muscle cells taken from an animal and grown in an artificial environment.
Scientists have learned how to grow a large number of unbound cells resembling minced meat. And the new task is to get full-fledged muscle tissue with its characteristic fibrous structure, density, and elasticity. To form muscle fibers, the cells must not only float in a nutrient medium but grow on a frame, an analog of an animal's skeleton. It is necessary to develop a system of supplying nutrients similar to the vessels of an animal and the waste products drainage system. Also, to grow, the muscle fibers need to be trained like in a gym. This means that it is necessary to cause contraction of the fibers under the influence of electrical impulses.
Another option for creating muscle tissue is using a bioprinter. This is an analog of a 3D printer, which uses living cells as a material for printing.
To solve the issue of scaling up production and getting a lot of meat quickly, scientists will have to improve the technology.
Health benefit or harm
The unique feature of cultured meat production technology is the ability to regulate fat content and add microelements. Fatty meat is a source of high levels of cholesterol and cause of cardiovascular disease. Cultivated meat has the same essential amino acids, gom iron, but less cholesterol. That's why it can become one of the most popular elements of a healthy diet. Since real muscle cells are used for cultivation, there is no doubt that the taste, color, and smell will be identical to the original.
The absence of antibiotics that are used in livestock and poultry farming to accelerate growth and prevent animal disease is another cultivated meat advantage.
Of course, the conclusions about the effect of cultured meat on the human body can be made when statistics on the regular use of such meat by people appear. And this takes time. But, based on the above arguments, we can assume that the statistics will be positive.
Reducing the cost of the final product is the key to its success in the market. In the case of cultured meat, you can trace the typical path of a new product gaining popularity. In 2013, the first cultured meat hamburger cost about $300k, and in 2017 one hamburger cost $11. Such a rapid price decline clearly demonstrates the progress and growing popularity of this product. Prices are still falling and, if the trend continues, cultured meat will be cheaper than regular meat.
To obtain all the benefits described above and to cover development costs in the early stages of technology development, the cultured meat industry requires a large investment. Major tech moguls Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Sergey Brin have invested millions of dollars. Development is underway at a fast pace and is already bearing fruit. The cultivated meat industry is looking forward to new investors.