A massive facility in the Bay Area designed to produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of cultured meat opened on Thursday. It is considered a significant step forward in a nascent but rapidly growing industry in which meat is produced from animal cells without slaughter. However, for the time being, production is limited to 50,000 pounds per year, which is incredible.
Part of a new $50 million, 53,000-square-foot campus for Berkeley food tech company Upside Foods, the facility is hailed as one of its kind in the commercial arena. Other companies that have produced cultured meat, also known as cultivated meat or lab-grown meat, have typically done so in smaller laboratories.
Although the US government has not yet approved the sale of cultivated meat, Upside Foods Chief Operating Officer Amy Chen believes the new facility shows that the technology is ready.
“It’s not a dream,” Chen told the Chronicle. “It’s not science fiction. It’s reality today.”
The product is made in the same way that other lab-grown meat is. Live animal cells are grown in massive bioreactors with specialized nutrient levels, yielding a scaffold-like “meat” that can be customized into various fat and muscle layers.
Until the meat is legal to sell, the company will conduct tours and test products. Once Upside receives government approval, it plans to begin supplying eateries.
Following the public introduction of the meat through chefs, it will then be sold in grocery stores. Cultivated meat, unlike plant-based meats, is fleshy and animal-based.
According to experts, the process not only prevents animals from being killed, but it is also a more cost-effective and eco-friendly way of producing meat since it utilizes fewer natural resources. Also, the process is much significantly quicker, taking only a few weeks instead of three years to mature a cow.
According to Chen, the meat could probably cost the same as good quality chicken meat.
The concept of cultivated meat is relatively new, but companies in the United States are preparing for vast commercial expansion. But will it be easy for companies to convince consumers to make that transition? Only time will tell.