Another week, another big headline about big money going into clean meats." Katherine has written before about Memphis Meats, the California start-up which is aiming to commercialize the growing of replacement meats from cells that are harvested from live animals.
The company has already produced products like chicken, duck and beef—albeit at incredibly expensive cost. Katherine reported, for example, that a pound of chicken costs US $9,000 currently, but they are aiming for $3-$4 per pound by 2021. Given that the company claims 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and land and water than conventionally-produced meat, one can assume that this lower footprint should—eventually—lead to lower production costs too.
Certainly, investors seem to be convinced. The company just announced in a statement that it had raised $17 million from an impressive group of investors including Cargill, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Suzy and Jack Welch, Kyle Vogt and Kimbal Musk.
With companies like Tyson already investing in "bloody veggie burger" company Beyond Meat, it's clear to me that Big Food is getting very interested indeed in the world of plant-based and "clean" meats. Assuming that society eventually gets serious about tackling the monumental ecological footprint of large-scale animal agriculture, investors may be wise to place some bets on alternative sources of protein.
What remains unclear for people like me, however—who have switched to a largely plant-based diet due to health reasons—is how lab-grown meats will compare in terms of nutrition. CNBC reports that the company itself is adamant that its meats are "not vegetarian." So I am going to go ahead and assume that lab grown meat will have a similar nutritional profile to the stuff that comes out of the slaughterhouse.
Still, maybe I'll one day be able to enjoy my very occasional half-beef, half-mushroom burgers with a lab-grown substitute for traditional meat.