Cellular Ag Welcomes Yet Another Clean Meat

The Lempert Report
August 01, 2017

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods has a new competitor with the billion-dollar startup Hampton Creek announcing it is getting into its entrance into the “clean meat” space.

Another company enters the arena to eliminate the use of animals for food. It comes at an interesting time when Hampton Creek has weathered a few problems and few, including me, ever saw their entry into “meat” on the horizon. Their initiative is to grow meat directly from cells. 

The good Food Institute’s Liz Specht, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, has issued a white paper outlining the opportunities in “clean meat.” She writes that “The clean meat industry mind map illustrates five main areas for development: cell lines, cell culture media, scaffolding and structuring, bioreactors, and supply chain and distribution. And that “rapid development of the industry as a whole requires concerted communication among researchers and companies that are conducting development.” 

“While the plant-based meat sector continues to make impressive strides toward parity with conventional meat in taste and texture, clean meat allows consumers to maintain their dietary preferences for animal meat while removing many of the inefficiencies and harms of current meat production. Clean meat production requires far less land and water than conventional meat, will produce exponentially less climate change, and eliminates the severe environmental repercussions of animal waste and contamination via runoff. It also requires no antibiotics, produces no bacterial contamination, and will not harm animals”. 

She goes on to say that lean meat will likely find an early market entry point as a high-value ingredient in products that are predominantly plant-based. The taste profile of meat is highly complex, comprising thousands of molecules that interact chemically in subtle, not always predictable ways with other components of food during the cooking process. As a result, the flavor of meat is not trivial to replicate or reconstitute from alternative ingredients, and adding clean meat to the mix can solve this problem without introducing the external harms of conventional animal agriculture.”

This is an important distinction from the Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods strategy, and one that Hampton knows well as an ingredient provider; this may also be the approach that fuels this part of cellular ag – much the same as we have witnessed with cricket flour and pea protein.