Photo by Etienne Girardet / Unsplash

Cultured Meat: A New Paradigm

The rise of lab-grown meats, propelled by concerns about environmental sustainability and ethical considerations, marks a transformative shift in the food industry, poised to address the challenges of population growth and conventional meat production.


With growing awareness of animal agriculture's environmental and ethical impacts and concerns about human health, the search for sustainable and ethical alternatives has become a priority for many.

Today, there are clear concerns about animal welfare, human health risks from antibiotic resistance and foodborne diseases, and environmental problems associated with animal health, such as deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

All this has prompted the search for safer and more ethical alternatives. Thus, what once seemed like science fiction has, since 2013, become a multi-billion-dollar industry that, according to some, is the food of the future: lab-grown meats, different from plant-based meat or other analogs. Since the US Department of Agriculture approved its sale, this market was valued at USD 104.85 million in 2021 and is expected to grow at an annual year-on-year rate of 16.96% to reach USD 268.47 million in 2027.

This is not just another alternative to conventional meat but a complete transformation of the food industry in the face of the evident increase in the demand for animal protein due to population growth, which makes the traditional model of meat production unsustainable in the long term.

Recent research from the University of California at Davis suggests that the global warming potential of cultured meat could be 4 to 25 times higher than that of regular beef if a highly refined growth medium is used in its production.

The technology for making this meat type involves laboratory culturing animal cells to produce real meat. By eliminating the need to raise and kill animals for meat, this technology can drastically reduce the environmental impact of food production and improve animal welfare and food safety.

The production process involves taking cells from animals that typically produce meat and growing them outside the animal in a suitable medium. Cultured meat has the same taste and nutritional value as conventional meat but with less environmental and ethical impact. Several projects are currently underway in this area, and some scientists claim that this technology is ready for commercial use.

One of the leaders in this new frontier is a startup founded by Chilean agronomist Andrés Ariztia, whose focus on cultured meat production is changing the rules of the game. His focus on research and development of innovative technologies paves the way for a more sustainable and ethical industry. By collaborating with partners worldwide and leading initiatives in the regulatory arena, he is opening up opportunities and accelerating the adoption of this technology. However, he believes that "cultured meat came not to replace conventional meat, but to complement the market, with the advantage that antibiotics are not needed to produce meat." However, he explains that "several Market Research institutions indicate that cultured meat should reach 5% in Market Share by 2030 and by 2040 it should have over 20%."

However, the road to widespread adoption of cultured meat has regulatory, economic, and commercial challenges, so cultured meat is likely still far from commercial launch.

Discussions on its regulation and labeling have yet to be clarified. There is already a controversy in the United States because while some producers want the Department of Agriculture to regulate and certify, others opt for the Food and Drug Regulatory Agency to do so since new components are included that require biosafety evaluations.

Another factor is consumer acceptance. Although surveys suggest a growing interest in this product, there are still doubts and myths about its safety, taste, and quality. Therefore, It is essential to raise public awareness of the benefits of cultured meat and demonstrate its equivalence in terms of flavor, texture, and nutritional value.

On the other hand, there is the issue of cost. Cultured meat is currently prohibitively expensive, but it is estimated that it can be about twice that of conventionally produced chicken. To achieve widespread adoption, it will be necessary to continue reducing costs and improving production efficiency.

In conclusion, the cultured meat industry represents a paradigm shift in how we produce and consume food. With the potential to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time, this technology is poised to transform the food industry in the coming years.

We are undoubtedly heading toward a food production scenario that could help meet the demand of more than 10 billion humans on the planet by the end of the 21st century.

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Future of FoodSustainable Food ProductionEnvironmental Impact

Pedro LOPEZ SELA Twitter

Pedro helps individuals & organisations thrive. He simplifies complexity, identifies inefficiencies, connects dots & imagines ideas that drive meaningful outcomes.