How we think of food, meat, and dairy is about to shift drastically. For decades, world scientists and food tech companies have searched for a sustainable alternative to the dominating (and highly unsustainable) animal agriculture industries.

The first solutions highlighted the benefits of vegan dieting, and over recent years, companies succeeded in replicating meat products using fully plant-based ingredients. But consumers worldwide remain stubborn in favoring traditional meat and dairy. Now, the era of cultivated meat and dairy is nearly here, and consumers will be able to eat meat and dairy products without harming the environment, or even animals.

The Cultured Meat Market is Growing Rapidly

Cultivated (also known as cell-based, cultured, or lab-grown) meat and dairy products have yet to enter the general commercial market, but food tech companies worldwide are preparing for regulatory approval. Despite not securing regulatory approval anywhere except Singapore as of today, the cultivated meat market is expected to reach $2.7 billion by 2030.

The cultivated meat and dairy brands have caught the attention of several significant investors including major meat companies such as JBS Foods or celebrity investors like Leonardo DiCaprio. These investments have helped propel the production capabilities of cultured food companies such as Future Meat. Future Meat reported that it now only costs $7.70 to produce a pound of grown chicken – down from $18 in early 2021.

How are Cultured Meat and Dairy Products Made?

Cultured meat and dairy companies use two distinct techniques to replicate animal proteins and create their cell-based products. Precision fermentation and cellular agriculture minimize animal involvement, abolish slaughter, and increase sustainable production. One report found that protein made with precision fermentation will be 100 times more land efficient and 25 times more feedstock efficient. Additionally, these processes are 10 times more water-efficient and 20 times more time-efficient.

The precision fermentation process uses microbial hosts that produce functional ingredients such as fats and protein. This process mimics animal proteins and fats to minimize animal involvement and cut out animal slaughter.

Cellular agriculture requires a small number of animal cells to create cultured meat in labs. The cellular agriculture industry is growing in popularity as more tech start-ups begin testing cultured cell-based alternatives.

Celebrities Are Investing in Cultured Meat and Dairy

Despite cultured meats' stunted entrance into the commercial market, celebrities and public figures have taken interest in the innovative food category. With the hope of helping faster gain regulatory approval and public acceptance, these cultured meat and dairy companies welcome the help of public figures. Investors like Mark Cuban help provide the funding necessary to revolutionize the companies’ technology whereas famed chefs like Dominique Crenn prepare to showcase cultured chicken on her menus.

The celebrity investment market ranges from companies including Perfect Day’s already available animal-free ice cream to Blue Nalu’s cell-based seafood alternatives. . In true celebrity fashion, these 7 icons are leading by example, showing fans everywhere what the hype surrounding sustainable, lab-grown foods.

Ashton Kutcher

Last October, Ashton Kutcher announced that he invested in MeaTech 3D – a food tech company that creates "clean Meat" with a 3-D printing process. The company's proprietary technology produces a sustainable cultured beef product using a bioprinting method that precisely replicates the taste and texture of traditional meat.

Bill Gates

Billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates invested in Upside Foods (formerly Memphis Meats) to help the company bring cell-based chicken to the market in the United States. Along with investments from meat giants including Cargill, UPSIDE Foods has been able to scale up production, opening an Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center (EPIC) with the capacity of producing 400,000 pounds of cultivated meat per year.

Dominique Crenn

Are you wondering when and how cultivated meat will first become available? Michelin star chef Dominique Crenn of San Francisco's Atelier Crenn teamed up with UPSIDE Foods as culinary counsel. Crenn – who removed the meat from her menus in 2018 – will work with Upside to showcase its cultivated chicken on high-brow plates at her iconic restaurant.

Kristen Bell

This February, temporarily-vegan actress Kristen Bell has turned her attention to another sector of the sustainable food industry. Bell just helped Good Culture – the cultured food brand responsible for producing a new cottage cheese product – secure a $64 million funding round.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Environmentalist and Oscar Award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio is betting big on lab-grown companies. Last April, DiCaprio joined the dairy-identical company Perfect Day, responsible for the animal-free whey that allows companies like Mars to replicate its milk chocolate without environmental harm. In September, the actor announced he invested in two cell-based meat companies, Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat.

Mark Cuban

Typically placing his bets on plant-based companies on Shark Tank, Mark Cuban recently invested in a cell-based company that food! Cell-based pet food company Wild Earth caught the attention of the reality TV investor, securing a $23 million investment package in September.

Prince Khaled bin Alaweed

Cultivated beef and chicken currently dominate the cell-based market, but cell-based seafood startup Blue Nalu caught the attention of Prince Khaled bin Alaweed. Last January, the Saudi Prince's venture capital firm KBW Ventures participated in the company's $60 million investment round. San Diego-based Blue Nalu has hosted tastings for its cruelty-free yellowtail, mahi-mahi, and red snapper in 2019.

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