Lab meats move forward: A final analysis for 2020

What’s new in the fake meat world? Plus, why I’m optimistic about beef demand despite the new competition in the meat case.

Amanda Radke

December 22, 2020

4 Min Read
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Clean meat. Slaughter-free meat. Ethical meat. Lab meat. Fake meat. Petri-dish proteins. Cell-cultured proteins.
Whatever you call it — this new age “meat” is grown in a lab and not on the hoof, and it’s coming to a grocery store near you.

I’ve long lamented about my issues with these products. It’s great that we have many options to feed a hungry planet. What I vehemently disagree with is how these fake meat companies use false marketing tactics to disparage traditionally-raised beef in order to gain consumer acceptance for their imitation products.

I understand that innovative investors are always looking for ways to disrupt a market and replace it with something new, and it’s clear that animal agriculture is the market they intend to disrupt and replace.

So I will keep pushing back and demanding that these companies, and their slick Silicon Valley investors, are held to the same standards as meat producers are.

And while I have seen an uptick of articles championing the progress of meat’s fake counterparts, I think this pandemic has also launched a new appreciation and enthusiasm for serving wholesome, nutrient-dense protein on the dinner table.

Meat shortages earlier this year launched new interest in stocking up the freezer with beef, pork and poultry. That, combined with more of us working from home and having our kids at home, has renewed the wonderful tradition of more meals together as a family around the dinner table.

Related:6 headlines with updates on activists, politicians & fake meats

As a result, we are seeing more interest in cooking with beef, preparing roasts, making kid-friendly recipes, and of course, holiday meals centered around a prime rib or tenderloin.

Considering all these factors, I am optimistic about the beef industry and firmly believe that beef demand will remain robust despite these external factors working against us.

Today’s blog offers one last roundup of fake meat headlines for 2020. If you missed the last round, I shared a disturbing new company that will use human cheek cells and expired donated human blood to grow your meat. Delightful, right?

Check out this week’s headlines and let me know what you think!

1. “Lab meat is getting closer to supermarket shelves” by Agnieska de Sousa for Bloomberg

According to the article, “Slaughter-free meat is finally starting to make the jump from the lab to the factory line. As Singapore becomes the first country to allow the sale of cultured meat, more startups around the world are preparing to test production of lab-grown meats like beef and chicken in factories. While there’s a long way to go, it’s a crucial step in getting cell-based products ready for supermarket shelves.”

Related:3 strategies fake meat companies are using to take ranchers down

2. “Squawking about lab meat” by John Carlson for the Muncie Journal

Carlson writes, “No, when I think of tasty food preparation, the only bio-reactor I want involved is a heavy iron skillet, the kind my Grandma Smith used. Through that bio-reactor, fully supplied with the bio-reactor fuel called ‘lard,’ she transformed typical chicken chunks into fried chicken worth dying for.

3. “Raising the stakes with lab-grown meat” by Suwatchai Songwanich for the Bangkok Post

An excerpt from the article reads, "Singapore recently became the first government to approve the use of lab-grown meat as an ingredient in food. Many have seen the move as a bellwether for the development of a global synthetic meat market -- an innovative sector which in the long term could significantly reduce our reliance on the slaughter of animals for food while significantly reducing carbon emissions.”

4. “Your first lab-grown burger is coming soon — and it’ll be ‘blended’” by Niall Firth for MIT Technology Review

Firth writes, “Growing meat in a lab is still way too expensive. But mixing it with plants could help finally get it onto our plates.”

5. “The restaurant will be the first ever to serve lab-grown chicken (for $23)” by Jade Scipioni for CNBC

Scipioni says, “On Saturday, lab-grown chicken made by U.S. start-up Eat Just will make its historic debut at restaurant 1880 in Singapore, after the country’s food agency approved the sale of cultured meat. The lab-grown chicken will be the first cultured meat sold and served at a restaurant, according to Eat Just.”

6. “Meat grown from cells moves out of the lab” by Bryan Walsh for Axios

Walsh writes, “What we eat and how we make it has enormous implications for the health of humanity and the planet we live on. Meat and fish grown from cells could make for a more sustainable food supply, but they still face scientific, regulatory and consumer challenges.”

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

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