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The ‘cultivated meat’ business – producing edible protein products that are essentially lab-grown synthetizations of animal meat – is getting a lot of interest from techies and big-money investors. And it makes sense: the idea that humans could have a food experience identical to the meat-eating many are accustomed to but without the harm to animals and planet is certainly intriguing, if perhaps a bit science-fiction-like. And now, one of the leading companies working on the idea, Future Meat Technologies, has announced what it’s billing as the “largest investment ever in cultivated meat,” securing $347 million in a Series B round of financing.
According to a statement from Future Meat announcing the funding, the money will primarily go to expanding production and bringing products to more consumers. In particular, the Israel-based company hopes to set up significant operations in the U.S. in the near future.
“Our team will break ground on the first-of-its-kind, large-scale production facility in the United States in 2022,” Yaakov Nahmias, founder and president of Future Meat, said in the statement. “This financing consolidates Future Meat’s position as the leading player in the cultivated meat industry, just three years after our launch. Our singular technology reduced production costs faster than anyone thought possible, paving the way for a massive expansion of operations.”
Part of the investor enthusiasm for the company is reportedly linked to the speed with which Future Meat has figured out how to bring down the cost of making cultivated meat. Like any technology product, things start out expensive and have to reach scale and cost efficiency before they can be adopted by mainstream consumers. Future Meat’s statement asserts that, six months ago, producing one pound of cultivated chicken ‘breast’ cost $18. With more research, that same hunk of alt-meat now costs just $7.70. Actual organic, boneless, skinless chicken breast on the Whole Foods website currently retails for $7.99 per pound, putting the animal-free version in direct cost competition.
“We have consistently demonstrated that our single-cell technology and serum-free media formulations can reach cost parity faster than the market anticipates,” Nahias said in the announcement.
And with that barrier out of the way, American consumers do seem at least open to the idea of cultivated or ‘cultured’ meat products. Earlier this year, Future Meat conducted a survey which reportedly found that 58 percent of respondents have “a general awareness of cultured meat” and more than one in three U.S. respondents “plan to adopt cultured meat into their diet” at some point in the future.