Tyson has announced a hefty investment in a Jerusalem-based company that makes lab-grown meat. Future Meat Technologies has announced a $2.2 million seed investment round co-led by Tyson Ventures, the venture capital arm of Tyson Foods.
Future Meat Technologies aims to produce a cost-efficient, non-GMO version of lab-grown meat directly from animal cells, without the need to raise or harvest animals.
“It is difficult to imagine cultured meat becoming a reality with a current production price of about $10,000 per kilogram,” said Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, the company’s founder and Chief Scientist. “We redesigned the manufacturing process until we brought it down to $800 per kilogram today, with a clear roadmap to $5-10 per kg by 2020.”
“This is our first investment in an Israel-based company and we’re excited about this opportunity to broaden our exposure to innovative, new ways of producing protein,” said Justin Whitmore, Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer of Tyson Foods. “We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”
Animal fat produces the unique aroma and flavor of meat that “makes our mouth water,” noted Nahmias, and Future Meat Technologies is now the only company that can produce this fat, without harvesting animals and without any genetic modification.
“Global demand for protein and meat is growing at a rapid pace, with an estimated worldwide market of more than a trillion dollars, including explosive growth in China. We believe that making a healthy, non-GMO product that can meet this demand is an essential part of our mission,” said Rom Kshuk, CEO of Future Meat Technologies.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has submitted official comments to the USDA outlining key principles for the regulation of plant-based and lab-grown imitation beef products. Earlier this year the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association also sent a petition to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, seeking to establish accurate beef labeling requirements, specifically ones that designate alternative “beef” products that are not derived from cattle.