The sector would only really make significant inroads into mass market spend once the cost of production dramatically decreases, the report from research analyst IDTechEX claims. Even then it will only account for only just over a third of global meat intake.
One of the biggest hurdles in the way of a major roll-out of cultured meat products is the high production cost for even making one burger. The input cost has decreased – the first cultured burger cost producer Mosa Meat $250,000 (£190,331) to create in 2013, though it claimed a ‘chicken’ nugget would cost $50 (£38) nowadays. However, it is still exorbitantly high compared to traditional methods.
Most of the cost can be attributed to the growth medium used to feed the cells used to produce the cultured meat, costing up to $400 (£304) per litre. Couple this with the bioreactors used to create the product needing hundreds of litres of the feed to produce a single kilogram of cultured cells presents a massive roadblock to sustainable production.
“Although this may all sound pessimistic, it is important to keep a sense of perspective,” the report states. “Cultured meat is an entirely new industry and it is natural that there will be challenges.
“Cultured meat has enormous potential to impact global food production, but the industry and its supporters will need to manage expectations in its formative years.”
Regulatory approval is another huge issue that faces the producers of cultured meat. Before it can be sold commercially, cultured meat must secure regulatory approval. That process takes about two years in the EU and is likely to take around 18 months in the US, once the process is finalized.
“No cultured meat company has yet submitted a bid for regulatory approval, however,” IDTechEX added. “This is mostly because no company has yet finalized its commercial-scale process, and so cannot say for sure what it will look like, preventing approval on aspects such as safety procedures.”
Despite the challenges in producing cell-based meat, a number of investors around the world have begun to heavily invest in the area.
In the past five years the field has raised more than $300m (£230.5m) in funding, with California-based start-up Memphis Meats raising $161m (£123m) alone this year.
The number of food firms exploring the field has also shot up, from a little as four companies in 2016 to more than 20 in 2019. That said, no company has yet to release a cultured meat product and there is little consensus as to when the first product will hit the market.
“So, when will cultured meat arrive in stores? If everything goes right, it could see a commercial release in some form by around 2023, although it will still be several years before it is widespread across the world’s supermarkets,” the report concluded.
Mosa Meat spoke to Food Manufacture about working towards their goals and scaling up production in our development hub feature.