Cellular agriculture - An outlook
11 May 2022
New Food in Conference: Clear Vision, Full of Taste
Will we soon be feeding the world with animal-based foods from cellular agriculture? The 3rd New Food Conference was dedicated to this groundbreaking question - and took a look into the future with decision-makers from the food industry at Anuga 2021.
New Food Conference meets Anuga
Imagine a world where we enjoy steak, fish and cheese without harming our health, animals or the environment, even if we are nine billion people. Sounds fantastic? And yet this vision may be closer than you think.
„I wish people will feel like they can be part of the change and eat their way to a sustainable future. That they feel empowered that their food choice has an impact.“
Dr. Pasi Vainikka, Co-Founder & CEO, Solar Foods
Around 20 international representatives from science, business and the investment sector spoke about the state of the art in cellular agriculture at the New Food Conference in Cologne on 10 and 11 October 2021. The international conference of the nutrition organisation ProVeg took place for the first time as part of the world's largest food trade fair, Anuga. The trade fair is considered a central source of impetus for developments in the food industry.
The pioneers of cellular agriculture met at the New Food Conference. (Photo: ProVeg)
The potential of cellular agriculture
Cellular agriculture sees itself as a solution to the health, ethical and environmental problems associated with the consumption of animal-based foods. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products without animal husbandry, is the slogan. The taste and consistency of cell-cultured foods do not differ from those of conventional products, is the encouraging promise.
„In order for something to be amazing, it has to be sustainable, it has to be tasty, it has to be affordable.“
Nate Crosser, Investor & Risikokapitalgeber, Blue Horizon
The new developments in cellular agriculture promise pleasure without remorse. (Photo: Wild Type, Avant Meats, New Age Meats, Shiok Meats, CC-BY 4.0)
Start-ups and companies alike are currently working on a number of cell-cultured new developments. The products are not yet on the European market. In the coming years, however, they are expected to make up a significant share of the protein sector: according to forecasts by the consulting firm Kearney, cell-cultured meat could account for 35 per cent of global meat consumption from 2040. (Source: (Quelle: A.T. Kearney (2019): How Will Cultured Meat and Meat Alternatives Disrupt the Agricultural and Food Industry. Online under the following link .
The growing number of market participants shows the great potential that start-ups and companies see in cell cultivation. (Source: Koelnmesse GmbH)
Some of the developers, from Biotech Foods to MeaTech and Bluu Biosciences, were also guests in Cologne. Together they talked about meat, fish and vegan cheese from cellular agriculture, about bioprocess technology and precision fermentation, and of course about consumer trends and regulations.
Let’s taste the future
The New Food Conference offered its visitors not only technical but also culinary insights - with a taste of what the future could look and taste like: David Brandes from Peace of Meat, a MeaTech company, served meatballs made from soy and cell-cultured chicken fat. This is a hybrid product that combines plant-based raw materials with the advantages of cellular agriculture.
Let's taste it! David Brandes explained how Peace of Meat makes hybrid meatballs before the New Food tasting. (Source: ProVeg)
For the production, the Belgian start-up processes cells from chicken eggs in a bioreactor in such a way that a fat mass is created. This provides the chicken flavour - and aroused enormous interest at the New Food Conference: during the presentation, photographers and camera teams crowded in front of the stage.
Young people in particular are open-minded
A first restaurant in Singapore already offers cell-cultured chicken nuggets. In general, however, legal approval procedures are a serious challenge. Cost-efficient large-scale production also remains to be mastered. Nevertheless, the experts are certain that we will overcome these hurdles.
„Optimization is just the boring part you need to do to reach the next level. The exciting part is discovering that your product has an impact on society and the world.“
Nina Buffi, Managing Director & CTO, Ospin
But will consumers buy the new products? "The younger, well-informed ones are very open to it," explained Mathilde Alexandre, who coordinates the CellAg project at ProVeg International. The acceptance is particularly high in Israel, the most important hotspot for cell-cultured meat next to Singapore. Around Tel Aviv alone, six companies are researching cell cultivation.
Fermentation: traditional process, modern interpretation
Another branch of cellular agriculture, precision fermentation, is also on the rise: bacteria or yeasts are "programmed" to produce milk proteins, for example. In the USA, ice cream made from animal-free milk proteins is already available locally. Companies in Germany are working on animal-free cheese using this method.
As the New Food Conference showed, there is still a lot of room for improvement: "Cheese should be healthy, sustainable, tasty and inexpensive - no cheese can do that yet, whether it is plant-based or milk-based," Blue Horizon investor Nate Crosser explained in a panel discussion. So is mozzarella from cow-free milk coming soon? "It's a big challenge," Crosser said, "but we humans can do cool things if we try."
So what's next for 2022? Learn more at: new-food-conference.com