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Cloning of Farm Animals/Meat and Cheese Substitutes Created in Laboratories, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Cloned animals, enabled through biotechnology, are of interest to the food and agriculture sectors.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared food derived from cloned cows, pigs and goats to be safe for consumption, and animal growers in a handful of nations, including Argentina, are forging ahead with cloned food animals.  In New Zealand, a tail-less genetically modified cow named Daisy was created that produces low-allergy milk that can be digested by children with milk allergies (numbering about 3% of all children in the developed world).
Livestock production places significant demands on the environment.  The United Nations (UN) reports that 30% of the world’s ice-free land mass is devoted to livestock, and that this livestock produces 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions.  Beef, pork and poultry production requires large amounts of water and feed.  Approximately 1 kilogram of live animal weight in the U.S. typically needs 10 kilograms of feed for beef, 5 kilograms for pork and 2.5 kilograms for poultry.  As world population growth continues (expected by some analysts to rise from 8 billion in 2022 to as high as 10 billion in 2050), demand for meat (or meat substitutes), indeed all food production, with rise accordingly.
On the negative side, plant-based meat isn’t necessarily healthier than real meat.  For example, some of faux meat products are high in sodium.  Some faux meats have 40 or more ingredients, including chemicals such as titanium dioxide and methylcellulose.
Mark Post, a researcher at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, was one of the first researchers in the world to develop animal tissue from laboratory cultures.  The groundbreaking work could someday result in meat produced in laboratories instead of on the hoof, thereby greatly reducing the use of water, land and energy as well as greenhouse gases resulting from the conventional raising and slaughtering of livestock.  Dr. Post has made progress by utilizing stem cells (specifically fetal calf serum), from which he has cultured thin strips of edible muscle tissue.  After years of work, Dr. Post presented a cultured beef burger at the TEDxHaarlem conference in Edinburgh.
Some firms are working to make plant-based alternatives to meat, with a goal of having these products look and taste like the real thing.  A Silicon Valley company, Impossible Foods (impossiblefoods.com), develops plant-based cheese and meat substitutes.
Beyond Meat (www.beyondmeat.com) is selling its plant-based chicken strips, sausage and beef-like patties sold at a variety of grocery and mass market retailers.  Hampton Creek produces an eggless mayonnaise substitute sold that has widespread distribution in the U.S.  (This sparked a significant battle over whether or not the firm can label the product “Just Mayo.”  The FDA’s official definition of mayonnaise includes eggs.  In late 2015, the FDA ruled that the product name can stay provided that the firm change its label in certain ways.)
Other firms are developing meat from animal cells in laboratories, a technology which is sometimes called “cellular agriculture.”  Startup Upside Foods (formerly Memphis Meats, Inc., (upsidefoods.com), for example, produces chicken strips and duck grown from self-producing cells.  All these ventures are working on producing foods that have tastes and textures similar to meat.  The firm created a cultured meatball at a cost of $2,400 per pound.  The price is largely due to the expense of fetal bovine serum (FBS), which is extracted from the heart of a calf fetus when its mother is pregnant at slaughter.  Another problem facing cellular agriculture is that vegans are not by definition potential customers.  In addition, cellular agriculture must find ways to make cells adhere to a fixed structure, allowing it to mimic steaks or chops as opposed to ground meat.  In early 2022, Upside Foods acquired cultivated seafood company Cultured Decadence.
Eat Just, Inc. (www.ju.st) is a California-based company that produces chicken products grown from poultry cells.  Formerly known as Beyond Eggs and Hampton Creek Foods, Eat Just received approval from the Singapore Food Agency to sell its chicken in Singapore in late 2020.
Faux meat is not limited to startups.  Nestlé offers the Awesome Burger, developed in Monterrey County, California at the former Sweet Earth facility (which was acquired by Nestle USA in 2017).  While recently founded companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have faced challenges, Nestlé has well established supply chains and a strong financial condition.  Unilever PLC is also promoting its meat alternative brand, Vegetarian Butcher, which offers soy-based meat-like patties and nuggets.


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