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Laboratory meat. Even the BBC admits it: 'Maybe it has no future...'

High costs and dubious sustainability: producers forced to apply for public funding

15, Jun 2023

It has been talked about for at least a decade but, at the moment, Singapore remains the only country in the world that allows the sale of lab-grown meat. At the same time Eat Just is the only company that has been allowed to produce for sale to the public (obviously in Singapore only), starting from December 2020.

"Cultured meat is real meat, but you don't have to slaughter an animal. This way of eating makes sense for the future." This was declared to the BBC by Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just. Obvious statements of those who bring grist to their mill.

Singapore has no shortage of tourists who come to try synthetic meat at Huber's Butchery and Bistro, the only restaurant in the world that serves it. There are also some Italians and there are those who are enthusiastic about the supposedly low environmental impact of this food. The only real concern for them is the high price of the product.

The BBC report mentions a plate of pasta with chicken costing 13.70 dollars (11 pounds - 12 euros): nothing prohibitive, per se, but the dizzying discount obtained compared to the current cost of producing protein foods must be taken into account synthetics.

"Eat Just won't say exactly how much it spends producing its cultured chicken, but the company's production capacity is currently only 2kg (4.4lbs) or 3kg a week in Singapore," the BBC report said. The comparison with the 4000-5000 kg of natural chicken produced on average per week is simply merciless.

For its part, Eat Just says it has already achieved a 90% cost reduction since 2018. "The narrative presented by these companies is very strong," says Ricardo San Martin, co-director of the Meat Lab at the University of California, Berkeley ( halt).
"But that narrative must be contrasted with science," the scholar explains to the BBC. "Can you do it, on a large scale, at a reasonable cost? No. Can you talk about saving the world with that? Again, no. These companies need to be honest: It's wishful thinking."

Although an increase in production is within reach, the BBC service also recalls the "uncertainty about the sector's ecological credentials, which have been questioned by scientists" (read EFA News of 12 May 2023).

"However, if cultured meat is to become more than a niche alternative for the well-heeled in the developed world, then relying on private business investment may not be enough." Tetrick himself admits it, according to which governments will have to invest "huge sums of public money" in cultivated meat so that it can compete with natural meat. Something very similar to current public investments for the ecological transition in all its forms.

According to San Martin, both private and public funding for cultured meat companies will dry up if they don't "look in the mirror," presenting realistic forecasts to investors. "Unless there's a clear path to success in the future, investors and governments aren't going to want to spend money on something that isn't scientifically proven."

EFA News - European Food Agency

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