Eating insects, going flexitarian or completely cutting meat out of your diet may not sound very appealing. But what if you love the taste and texture of real meat but also care about a more sustainable future?
Well, as long as you have an open mind and don’t mind a bit of science in your steak, there might just be an alternative solution.
Lab Grown Meat
The Institute For The Future (IFTF) suggest that lab grown meat will be a common sight at the butcher counter in ten years time. Researchers have been working on science to produce laboratory grown meat for a little while now.
Cultured, or in vitro, meat has been developed from animal stem cells and artificially grown in a laboratory. The first experiment of this kind dates back to 2013 when a single burger patty was produced at a cost of $325,000.
Since that initial experiment there have been several companies continuing to work on in vitro meat production. An exceptional volume of funding has gone into a small group of startups who are accelerating their research and are hoping to have products available for retail purchase within three to five years. With this extensive research the cost of the original $325,000 burger was reported to have dropped to less than $11 in early 2017.
Given all the alternatives to meat consumption and a growing awareness of the sustainability issues that meat demand attracts, it’s possible that society has a chance to save our planet before it is too late.
Alternative Protein Startups
Innovative, alternative proteins, from eggless mayo to lab-grown burgers, and they’re revolutionising the future of animal farming. We’re curious to try them all, though some of them make our minds boggle. Here are nine of the hottest alternative protein startups out there.
#1 Mosa Meat, Netherlands, founded 2013
The world’s first lab-grown burger was created by the team behind Mosa Meat in 2013. The prototype of painstakingly layered muscle fibre cost US$325,000 and was bankrolled by Google’s Sergey Brin.
They’re ramping up efforts to have lab-grown minced beef on the shelves in five years, for a similar cost to traditionally farmed beef.
#2 Impossible Foods, California, founded 2011
Impossible Foods are the creator of the Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger that bleeds just like a beef burger. The company have raised over $250 million in funding from investors including Google Ventures and Bill Gates.
The first Impossible Burger was launched to the public in July 2016 when it became available at the Momofuku Nishi restaurant in New York, owned by David Chang. Since then the burger has been rolled out to a handful of other restaurants across the US.
In 2017 the company announced it was opening a dedicated plant to produce the plant-based burgers on mass aiming to produce a million pounds of plant-based burger meat every month.
#3 Beyond Meat, Los Angeles, founded 2009
Instead of lab-grown meat, Beyond Meat manufacture vegetarian meat substitutes from plant-based proteins, such as soy or pea isolate.
They make products like Beyond Chicken, Beyond Beef and The Beast, available at Whole Foods in the US amongst other retailers.
Their backers include co-founders of Twitter, as well as Bill Gates.
#4 Memphis Meats, San Francisco, founded 2015
Like Mosa Meat, Memphis Meats is creating lab-grown meat. They recently unveiled their cultured meatball from the IndieBio accelerator, using not only beef stem cells but pork as well.
One of the co-founders comes from a family that owns 43 barbecue restaurants. Pretty good credentials for making a tasty meatball.
#5 SuperMeat, Tel Aviv, founded 2015
SuperMeat have done something similar with chicken and are developing the technology to create cultured meat from chicken cells in a safe and controlled environment, external to the animal’s body.
The company recently raised $3 million via a round of seed funding after an earlier successful Indiegogo campaign.
The startup expects to bring its clean chicken products to market in the very near future. They’re aiming to sell at a price point similar to the conventional chicken products currently available on store shelves.
#6 Clara Foods, San Francisco, founded 2014
Clara Foods is in the business of chickenless egg whites. Another startup to come out of the IndieBio accelerator, they’ve created a genetically identical liquid egg white, grown in the lab from genetically modified yeast.
Egg whites are a $3 billion market in the US alone and a major component of food products like meat substitutes and baked goods. At scale it could mean safer and cheaper large-scale egg inputs, without the animal welfare issues.
They’ve raised over $3 million since 2015, and backers include founder of Stonyfield Farms, Gary Hirshberg.
#7 JUST, San Francisco, founded 2011
JUST (formerly Hampton Creek) is the most established and the largest of the alternative protein players, distributed across Walmart, Whole Foods, Kroger and most major retailers in the USA.
Starting with Just Mayo – their eggless mayonnaise product – the company quickly expanded into Just Dressing, Just Cookie Dough and this year are rolling out Just Scramble. They are also venturing into the clean/cultured meat market.
With more than $220 million raised, backers include founder of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, Eduardo Saverin of Facebook fame, Temasek, Mitsui, Founders Fund, Li Ka-shing, the Heineken Family and many more.
#8 New Wave Foods, San Francisco, founded 2015
Newcomer New Wave graduated from the IndieBio accelerator in 2015. The first product they’ve created is lab-made shrimp. Don’t mistake this for good ol’ seafood extender or crab sticks.
New Wave is making shrimp from plant-based protein and red algae. According to early taste testers it’s just like the real thing. Not only does this circumvent overfishing, it also avoids the human slavery in the seafood supply chain. Google has just ordered a batch.
#9 Perfect Day Foods, Cork, founded 2014
Creating dairy products with a smaller hoofprint and zero farming, Perfect Day (formerly Muufri) makes milk proteins by fermenting dairy yeast with sugar. By adding plant-based nutrients, fats and sugars, their milk is hormone and lactose-free.
It apparently tastes just like cows’ milk, and is sustainable and completely animal-free. They’re expecting to bring their products to market in 2018.