Jim Mellon, experienced food-tech investor and entrepreneur, has made the prediction that cultured meat will eventually be more affordable than both factory farmed and plant-based meats. This could become a reality within the next five years, according to Mellon. As an investor in the food-tech industry myself, a statement like this is incredibly interesting. Cultured meat has been, and continues to be, seen by some as an unrealistic alternative mainstream food option due to its price and the difficulties/expense involved in curating the product.
Cultured meat is made through taking stem cells from animals and cultivating these in labs to grow meat. Mellon bases his prophesies of price parity between cultured and traditional meat products on an efficiency argument. Mellon points out that 2.5mm of stem cell material from a single cow, can produce the same amount of meat as 7 or 8 cows factory farmed. With growing investmentin the sector and increasing demand for a more environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional meat, Mellon is confident that the prices of cultured meat will fall with the prices of traditional meat rising as the opposite side of the same coin.
With the ‘efficiency argument’ explaining the supremacy of cultured meats over factory farmed meats, Mellon raises the ‘taste and texture’ argument to explain why cultured meats will triumph over plant-based alternatives. Such alternatives are already household names and remain attractive options for non-meat eaters. However, cultured meat is still meat and as it does not carry the negative environmental or moral implications of factory farmed meat, it therefore is likely to be the preferred option of those who turned to plant-based options as a result of such implications yet still prefer the taste of meat. Furthermore, it is also likely to attract those who were uncomfortable with meat eating but did not move to alternatives due to concerns for taste/texture.
The future certainly looks bright for the cultured meat industry, how bright exactly remains to be seen. As an investor in the food-tech sector, it is certainly an area which I will continue to keep a very close eye on.