In what could signal a massive change in the way we consume our meat, the Singapore government has given the green light to US start-up Eat Just to sell lab-grown chicken meat.
This is the world’s first regulatory approval for so-called clean meat that does not come from slaughtered animals, Eat Just said.
The lab meat is “created” from animal cells and produced in bioreactors, according to reports. The lab meat has, for now, been approved for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites.
Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, said in a statement that the company’s regulatory approval for the meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the world.
Lab-grown meat has seen major breakthroughs in the past decade, with many start-ups attempting to bring cultured meat to the table. The growing Vegan movement has meant more people are not only quitting meat, but even the ones who continue to eat meat are looking at more ethical sources of meat. Israel-based Future Meat Technologies, and Bill Gates-backed Memphis Meats are just two companies which are both trying to enter the market with affordable and tasty lab grown meats. Singapore’s Shiok Meats is working on lab grown crustacean meats.
The demand for alternatives to regular meat has surged due to consumer concerns about health, animal welfare and climate change, with Barclays predicting that the market for meat alternatives could be worth $140bn within the next decade, or about 10% of the $1.4tn global meat industry.
The company’s claim that lab grown meat is environmentally safe, some scientists suggest it might actually be worse for climate change under some circumstances.
Apart from lab-grown meat, there is also a burgeoning market for ‘vegan’ meat, meaning plant-based substitutes for meat which taste and look like regular meat. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, both of which make plant-based substitutes for meat, are increasingly found on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus in the Western nations.
However, the cost of lab-meat remains pretty high, with Eat Just suggesting that the chicken nuggets would be priced at $50 each. It will also remain a big challenge for the companies to convince consumers to switch to “fake” meat substitutes.
But Singapore’s approval of Eat Just’s product will likely attract competitors to set up operations in the city state, and it could also prompt other countries to approve it, too.
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