Why is this significant?
Most companies have concentrated on mince style products with little 3 dimensional structure. Manufacturing a 3D product with the textural attributes of a conventional steak is a major milestone in producing cell based conventional meat alternatives.
Aleph Farms is one of the amazing concentration of high tech food startups in Israel. They’ve now shown a prototype steak product manufactured using a bio-engineering platform co-developed with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. So how do they do this?
“The small pieces of steak, just half a centimeter thick, are created by seeding the different types of cells that make up muscle into a scaffold. Over time, the cells grow and replicate the internal structure of meat, though the company still has to tweak the process to increase the thickness, scale up production and reduce the cost.” says Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. One of the biggest breakthroughs is that they don’t use Fetal Bovine Serum, the standard ingredient for cell growth media.
The Wall Street Journal traveled to Israel to see the Aleph Farms product for itself. Below is part of their video interview and tasting.
When will it launch? 2021 is the target for limited release as Neta Lavon noted in our podcast. Add another 1-2 years for commercialisation, scaleup and regulatory approval and 2023 is looking good for the first commercial product. Apparently Aleph are considering first launching the product in Europe “as part of the EIT Food European consortium that funds innovation in the food sector. To do so, it will have to comply with EU regulations, which establish a 1.5-year process to get approval for the launch of a cultured meat product.”
This development by Aleph is highly significant as it marks the first product grown using multiple cell types to achieve a whole muscle product. At USD50 for an approximately 10 sq cm piece it’s not cheap, but remember this is a technology and technologies get exponentially cheaper. Remember how much a smartphone once cost!