Dead meat? Cultured meat industry at crossroads after removal from restaurants


In recent years, three companies in the world received permission to market cultured meat, and offered dishes in a limited quantity in only 3 restaurants. Recently, all restaurants stopped offering these dishes to the public. The industry itself is at a crossroads, and has to struggle with high production costs and the inability to increase the scale of production

Cultured meat companies have raised a lot of capital in recent years with the aim of offering consumers new products containing animal cells grown in a laboratory. So far, two companies in the world have managed to approve their products for consumption in two countries, and have offered cultured chicken products in three restaurants – two in the U.S. and one in Singapore. However, in recent months, all the restaurants removed the dishes from the menus and stopped offering them to customers. In January, the Israeli Ministry of Health granted its first approval to the cultured meat product of startup Aleph Farms, and it will be able to offer it to the public after completing all the regulatory approvals. But like its competitors, it will also have to overcome the significant difficulties facing the industry and the big questions about its ability to grow.

סטייק מתורבת אלף פארמס

Cultured meat products are developed in a laboratory, therefore offering them to consumers requires regulatory approval to ensure they are safe to consume. At the end of 2020, an American company called Eat Just (now Good Meat) stunned the world after it was able to approve the marketing of a cultured chicken product for the first time ever in Singapore. During that year, the company began selling products in one restaurant, one day a week and for limited hours. The products were sold at loss prices due to their high cost, and the company had difficulty expanding its production line and increasing the quantities supplied to the market. More than three years have passed, and the cultured chicken has been removed from the menu of the Singaporean restaurant.

July 2023 provided another landmark for the industry. For the first time, after completing a regulatory procedure with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, two companies – Upside Foods and Good Meat offered their products for sale in two restaurants in the U.S. However, now cultured meat is no longer available in any restaurant in the U.S., Singapore or anywhere else. The less than handful of restaurants that sold the products have halted sales, and the startups that received the coveted approval are now considering their next moves.

All of the cultured meat products currently in development or approved for marketing contain a very low number of meat cells grown in a laboratory, and rely mainly on soy or other plant products. For example, the product of the Israeli company Aleph Farms has 20% cultured beef cells – and this is a relatively high percentage compared to the average in the global industry.

One of the reasons for the significant difficulties the global industry faces is the fact that it is based on practices and products from the pharmaceutical industry, so the production is very expensive. In addition, there are many questions regarding the complex growing practices, and even questions about the environmental benefits, since recent studies indicate significant pollution caused by the industry. Many are asking today whether the industry can indeed grow and become significant, or whether it is a gimmick that will remain within the walls of the laboratories, or at most it will be able to offer very limited products only to the rich.

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