BOSTON — IDTechEx has recently released "Cultured Meat 2021-2041: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts," a market research report exploring the technical and market factors that are shaping the emerging industry around cultured meat. The cultured meat industry has received significant attention in recent months, following the world's first approval of a cultured meat product for commercial sale in Singapore in December 2020.
Cultured meat, otherwise known as cultivated meat, cell-based meat and clean meat, involves using lab-grown animal cells to create realistic meat products. Unlike plant-based meat analogs, cultured meat has the potential to create products that are completely identical to conventional meat, consisting of the same fat and muscle tissue, without requiring animals to be reared and slaughtered. This could help avoid some of the major environmental issues associated with animal agriculture without requiring consumers to change their diets in a substantial manner, something they are often reluctant to do, IDTechEx said.
The cultured meat industry has grown rapidly over the last five years. In 2016, there were only four companies in the industry, only one of which had developed anything close to a prototype. Now there are more than 40 companies across the world working to develop cultured meat, with dozens of prototype products having been demonstrated and tasted, IDTechEx said. There is now a cultured meat company on every continent (except Antarctica) and cultured meat has even been made in space — startups Aleph Farms and Finless Foods created prototype products on the International Space Station to demonstrate the potential versatility of their technologies.
The growth of the industry has been reflected by a growth in investment, with the industry having raised close to a billion dollars in private funding since 2015. In 2020, companies raised more than $300 million, and the industry received another boost when U.S. startup Eat Just became the first company in the world to achieve regulatory approval for commercial sale of a cultured meat product — a cultured chicken product that can now be purchased in restaurants in Singapore.
However, despite this optimism, the industry still faces some major challenges, IDTechEx said. It is very expensive to produce cultured meat and no company has yet been able to produce it on a commercial scale. The price has fallen significantly from the more than $300,000 that it cost to create the world's first cultured burger in 2013 — Israel-based SuperMeat recently claimed its cultured chicken burger cost about $35 to produce for a burger that is 50% cultured cells. Nevertheless, this is still significantly more expensive than conventional meat and the industry still faces major challenges with engineering and scale before it can approach price parity with the meat industry.
The new IDTechEx report is based on research into the industry, including interviews with more than 15 people familiar with the industry. The report examines the key technologies that are driving the growth of the cultured meat industry and evaluates whether the industry will eventually be able to reach price parity with conventional meat. The report provides a step-by-step overview of how cultured meat is produced and the key emerging technologies in each step, highlighting the innovative companies in the field along the way and discussing the key factors that will lead to commercial success in the industry.
In the report, IDTechEx discusses the consumer, regulatory and industry factors that will shape the future of the cultured meat industry. For example, it said regulations will play a critical role in the early-stage industry, with the report providing an overview of cultured meat regulations in major markets, such as the U.S. and European Union. Finally, the report provides 10- and 20-year market forecasts for the cultured meat industry.