For decades, there have been concerns about the environmental impact of and the treatment of animals in the $200 billion American meat industry. Two startups are looking to shake things up.
Bay Area company Memphis Meats and Netherlands-based Mosa Meats have made it their goal to replace farm animals with meat grown from self-producing cells. The cell-produced meats are created in stainless steel bioreactor tanks, and the companies have labeled these products as “clean meat,” which could essentially revolutionize the meat market.
Scientists from these companies have already created beef products including a burger and a meatball grown from bovine cells. But yesterday, Memphis Meats for the first time tested lab-grown chicken strips with a group of consumers, and responses were positive. In fact, most testers said they would eat the breaded, deep fried chicken strips again.
Adding chicken to the list of cell-produced meats is a major feat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, each American consumed an average of 90.9 pounds of chicken in 2016 — almost the same amount of beef and pork combined.
Besides not having to raise then slaughter animals, this lab-grown meat concept has a major environmental advantage as well. The companies argue that the technique avoids any “costs of grain, water and waste disposal of livestock,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
“We expect our products to be better for the environment (requiring up to 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, land and water than conventionally-produced meat), the animals and public health,” reads the Memphis Meats’ website.
When Memphis Meats released its cell-produced meatball for the first time, it had cost $18,000 a pound to produce. The company has since drive down costs. Using its current technology, Memphis Meats estimates it can produce one pound of chicken for less than $9,000. To compete with the big guys, the company continues to seek ways to lower costs.
Memphis Meats hopes to sell its cell-produced meat products by 2021.