By Rachael Green, Benzinga
As the worlds growing population brings with it a growing demand for meat, the environmental pressures of meat consumption are coming into sharper focus. To meet that demand while decreasing the environmental impact the industry has, companies like Steakholder Foods Ltd (NASDAQ: STKH) are developing new technology for lab-grown meat. Heres what investors should know about the emergence of food printing.
Meat Accounts For About A Third Of The Agricultural Industrys Emissions And Deforestation Problem
If the global population cut its meat consumption in half, greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural industry would drop by 31%. At the same time, the acres of land used to feed and raise livestock would decrease so much that it would almost stop the net loss of forests. If just half of that newly freed-up land were also restored through tree planting to create forest land, the amount of emissions captured by those new forests would double that 31% drop in emissions.
Despite that significant potential to reduce the pressure on the environment and limited natural resources, meat consumption is actually expected to rise in the future. Instead of falling by half, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates global meat consumption will rise by 14% by 2030.
Cultivated Meat Would Eliminate The Need For Land-Intensive Livestock Raising
Cultivated meat refers to meat made from animal cells grown in a lab. Instead of raising and then slaughtering a cow, researchers have found a way to simply cultivate cow cells in a lab. With this technology, there would be no need to raise livestock, freeing up the acres of land devoted to keeping that livestock as well as the acres of crops dedicated to feeding them.
Lab-grown meat bypasses the slaughterhouse and also the waste that comes with it. The process of draining the blood, removing the offal, tendons and other parts of the animal that people dont eat results in about 60% of each animal slaughtered being either thrown away or recycled. By growing just the cells needed to recreate the parts of the animal that people actually eat, cultivated meat can also solve that glaring waste problem in the meat industry.
The Emerging Lab-Grown Meat Industry Is Making Headway, But Challenges Remain
The emerging industry is already starting to see some significant breakthroughs with this emerging tech. In 2022, the USDA approved California-based Upside Foods lab-grown chicken for sale in the United States, marking the first approval of its kind in the country. This year, the agency followed that up with another approval for Good Meat, which also makes a cultivated chicken product.
But some key challenges remain before cultivated meat can fully replace its traditional counterpart namely, cost and texture. The technology is still new, and the cultured meat it produces is still costly to make. Meanwhile, actually shaping a cluster of cells into, say, a steak or pork chop is tricky.
Hybrid meat is one way around the affordability challenge in the cultivated meat industry. It uses readily available, more affordable plant-based materials as the base with just enough lab-grown meat cells added to provide that real meat flavor. Until the technology to produce 100% lab-grown meat at scale becomes more affordable, these hybrid meat products offer a more cost-effective approach to developing these products at commercial scale.
Steakholder Foods Reports Its Patented 3D Printing Technology Recreates The Taste And Texture Of Real Meat
While they address the issue of affordability, the challenge of recreating the unique texture of actual cuts of meat remains challenging. Thats what really sets Steakholder Foods and its patented 3D printer apart. To create a more realistic texture, the company developed a unique 3D printer along with a hybrid meat ink that manufacturers can use to print ready-to-cook steaks, fish fillets and other structured cultivated meat products that deliver both the taste and texture of real meat.
As the technology continues to progress, Stakeholder Foods will have the ability to seamlessly increase the percentage of lab-grown meat cells in the final product as those cells become more affordable to produce at scale.
The B2B-Focused Company Is Making Cultivated Meat Production Attainable And Scalable For More Producers
The B2B company intends to sell its 3D bio-printers to manufacturers who can then continue to order batches of hybrid meat ink as needed. The scalable technology allows manufacturers to produce several tons of 3D-printed meat products per month.
Steakholder Foods signed its first multimillion-dollar agreement this summer, which will see a large-scale production facility built in the Persian Gulf region. Right now, the Israel-based company offers fish ink and its recently launched beef ink, but other species can be expected soon.
Steakholder Foods became the first Nasdaq-listed cultivated meat company in 2021 and is still one of the few pure-play options for investors looking for exposure to the emerging sector. While major companies like Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) and JBS S.A. (OTCQX: JBSAY) are starting to invest in the new technology, Steakholder Foods is one of the few publicly-traded companies exclusively focused on developing meat printing technology.
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