Nestlé's alt-meat product sends signal to global food sector

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé has been investing in protein expertise and the development of proprietary technologies for plant-based meat alternatives
Nestlé has been investing in protein expertise and the development of proprietary technologies for plant-based meat alternatives

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Nestlé's commitment to be the first food multinational to market a hybrid plant-based and cultivated meat product sends a clear message about the future it sees in cultivated meat, The Good Food Institute (GFI) claims.

Nestlé announced on 13 July that scientists at Nestlé Research in Lausanne were working with Future Meat Technologies, a leading cultured-meat start-up, to explore the potential of cultured-meat components that did not compromise on taste or sustainability.

GFI founder and president Bruce Friedrich said: “It appears Nestlé is positioning itself to be the first global food giant to market with a hybrid plant-based and cultivated meat product. Nestlé’s involvement at this level could be transformative for the cultivated meat industry and should significantly advance what needs to be a global norm: delivering more sustainable proteins to consumers around the world.​ 

“Nestlé is the world’s biggest food company, so this level of validation sends an unmistakable signal of the huge potential the company sees in the future of the cultivated meat industry. An investment like this from the global food leader could propel the industry forward and mainstream the idea of cultivating real animal meat from cells.


“Nestlé is one of the most well-known brands on the planet, so it is exciting to see the company reimagining meat. When Nestlé talks, the worldwide food industry listens. For Nestlé to see the potential of cultivating real animal meat directly from cells would be a game-changer for the industry.”

GFI’s Cultivated Meat​ State of the Industry report shows that 2020 was a record year for the sector, with 23 new cultivated meat companies launching, making a total of 76 companies globally now in existence – up 43% from 2019.

Cultivated meat companies received more than $360m in investments in 2020 - six times the amount raised in 2019, according to GFI.

However, despite these positive developments, public funding remained critical, GFI said. Global governments invest more than $30bn every year​ into renewable energy research and development but had not yet meaningfully prioritised climate-essential methods of producing protein, it claimed. Cultivated meat would remain a fraction of the overall market for conventional meat unless governments invested in alternative proteins as they had done for other climate-friendly innovations, it argued.

'Need a protein transition'

“Globally, we need a protein transition if we’re going to move the world to net-zero emissions,” ​said Friedrich. “We need the public and private sector to go all-in on making meat from plants and cultivating meat from cells. Governments must invest in these innovations now to slash the climate impact of our food system and stand a chance of moving the world to net-zero emissions by 2050.”

To understand the potential of future meat alternatives, Nestlé said it was closely monitoring scientific trends and exploring emerging technologies. The company explained it was evaluating innovative technologies to produce cultured meat or cultured-meat ingredients with several external partners and start-ups, as such novel technologies could lead to more environmentally friendly products.

Future Meat Technologies' novel and cost-efficient proprietary technology could produce non-genetically modified cultured-meat components from animal cells, therefore reducing the need for land and resources to raise animals, Nestlé added.

Reinhard Behringer, head of the Nestlé Institute of Material Sciences at Nestlé Research said: "For many years we have been investing in our protein expertise and the development of proprietary technologies for plant-based meat alternatives, allowing us to continuously expand our wide range of tasty and nutritious products with a lower environmental impact.

"To complement these efforts, we’re also exploring technologies that could lead to animal-friendly alternatives that are nutritious, sustainable, and close to meat in terms of taste, flavour, and texture."

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