The cell cultured meat burger is coming to a plate near you, that much is certain, but in a recent TED talk, Bruce Friedrich, executive director of The Good Food Institute, claims that when it does, it will cost about €50.
That’s a far cry from the lab grown revolution we’ve been promised, but the important thing here is that, the concept is moving ever closer to becoming a reality. The pricing for lab-grown meat will depend specifically on a company/producers’ ability to manufacture at scale. The more they can produce the lower the cost to the consumer.
Quartz reports how the cost of cell-cultured burgers has been steadily falling. In 2013, Mosa Meats became the first company to produce a lab-grown burger. Back then it too three lab technicians 3 months to nurture the 20,000 fibre strands needed to form a burger, the price came in at a whopping $1.2 million per pound to sell. In 2017 Memphis Meats announced a price reduction to $9,000 per pound. In 2018 that fell again to $1000 per pound before early this year Adelph Farms claimed to be able to produce patty’s at $100 per pound.
Friedrich foresees a future where meat is produced in facilities that more resemble breweries than farms and is adamant that cell-cultured meat will play a major role in the fight against climate change and in ethical meat consumption.
He also claimed, somewhat surprisingly, that the first mass consumed cell-cultured burger, may not necessarily be beef. As the process for ‘growing’ the meat is pretty much the same regardless of the species of animal, there is no reason why it couldn’t be fish, chicken, or indeed another kind of meat not yet widely consumed.
A $50 burger won’t make a great dent in the mass meat consumption market, but there will be a trickledown effect. As the aspirational, more affluent consumer begins to normalise the consumption of lab-grown burgers, as prices fall, we’re looking at a future where slaughtered meat is an exception rather than the rule.