Big money pumped into lab meat

Big money pumped into lab meat

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YOUR TURN: A taste-testing event for cell-based meat produced by leading laboratory meat company Memphis Meats.

YOUR TURN: A taste-testing event for cell-based meat produced by leading laboratory meat company Memphis Meats.

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Cell-based meat closer to market; new moves to get farmers out of livestock

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STARTUPS are getting closer to bringing meat alternatives to market, while anti animal production forces have moved into the realm of actively helping producers get out of livestock.

Global nonprofit animal protection group Mercy for Animals has launched what it is calling the Transfarmation Project.

It appears to be a mechanism for connecting farmers willing to move out of livestock with investors looking to move into the plant-based food and alternative meat space.

The project's website talks about how inhumanely farmers raising animals are treated, saying they refer to themselves as 'indentured servants' in contract relationships with major meat companies.

"They take on massive debt, often struggle to pay it off, and have little to no control over their operations," the website says.

It also says the plant-based food industry is expected to be worth $85 billion by 2030 and a reliable source of key ingredients, such as peas, mushrooms, oats, and greens will be needed.

"The Transfarmation Project partners with farmers to help them transition to plant production and then connects them with businesses in need of their products. It's a true win-win-for farmers and their families, for consumers, for animals, and for the planet," the site says.

Naturally, the 'donate' prompt is displayed prominently on both the Transfarmation and Mercy for Animals website.

Big money

Meanwhile, US cell-based meat producer Memphis Meats has announced it has attracted a new series of investment from the likes of SoftBank Group, Norwest and Temasek, taking its total funding to in excess of $180m.

Memphis Meats' laboratory-grown meatballs.

Memphis Meats' laboratory-grown meatballs.

Also joining the round are new and existing investors including Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Threshold Ventures, Cargill and Tyson Foods and it marks the largest funding moment so far in the cell-based meat industry.

Memphis Meats says it will use the funds to build a pilot production facility to bring its product to market.

It says this round extends the Memphis Meats coalition to Asia, which is a strategically valuable market for cell-based meat and faces significant challenges in meeting growing demand for meat.

Managing director Uma Valeti said the company was "revolutionizing how meat is brought to every table around the world."

"We are providing compelling and delicious choices by producing real meat from animal cells, its natural building blocks. Cell-based meat is poised to dramatically expand humanity's capacity to feed a growing global population while preserving our culinary traditions and protecting our planet," he said.

The company released the world's first cell-based meatball in early 2016 and the world's first cell-based poultry a year later.

It's website spiel says: "We cultivate the (animal) cells into meat by feeding them their favorite nutrients. We call this process 'essential nutrition' because we feed the cells exactly what they need to thrive while eliminating any unnecessary steps along the way."

It's catchcry is have your steak and eat it too.

British business magnate and founder of Virgin, Richard Branson, put out a statement about the Memphis funding: "In the next few decades I believe that cell-based meat will become a major part of our global meat supply. I cannot wait for that day."

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