by Andrew Friedman
With the world’s population set to grow from 7.6 billion to almost 12 billion people in 2100, how to feed the world is one of the biggest challenges humanity faces in the 21st century.
The need for a sustainable food model to feed the globe is the motivation behind SuperMeat, a Tel-Aviv based food-tech startup founded in 2015 by Ido Savir that aims to bring lab-made chicken meat to the market within the next three years at a price similar to regular chicken products.
“SuperMeat is an ideologically driven startup,” Savir told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) in an email interview. Noting that he has been a vegetarian for over 20 years, Savir added, “Our life`s mission is to try and make this world better for all beings. We greatly believe in the potential of technology to create a global impact in very short timeframes and the world very much needs that at this time. The world’s population is projected to reach almost 10 billion people by 2050, causing meat consumption to double itself.”
The company closed a $3 million investment round in early January, led by U.S.-based venture capital fund New Crop Capital, which invests in disruptive food technologies, and Stray Dog Capital, which invests in alternatives to the animal-based economy. SuperMeat also has a strategic partnership with the German-based poultry producer PHW.
SuperMeat meat is produced by growing cells that have been extracted from a ‘real’ chicken and cultivated in the lab. The process, says Savir, would end the industrial need to mass-produce animals for slaughter and eliminate the need for the use of antibiotics and exposure to animal waste and food-borne diseases, making it a far healthier alternative.
Savir says he believes consumers will be willing to ‘give it a try’ and that willingness will grow as the product comes to market. “Surveys indicate that the vast majority of people will be willing to try it, and that is before we have a product on the market when the product is still considered lab grown and not factory made as it should and will be.”
The product will after all, says Savir, taste and feel the same and eventually will even be cheaper than live meat.
“Cultured meat is biologically the same as ‘regular’ or conventional meat which is produced in a different environment, independent of the animal’s body. Biologically the two products will be identical, hence the taste, flavor and overall experience will be the same,” Savir said.
“Clean meat production is a much more efficient process that requires significantly fewer resources than conventional meat production. This is why we believe and aim to compete with conventional meat product pricing and eventually reach much lower prices,” he added.
Once SuperMeat has mastered chicken says Savir, the company plans to add additional meat products to its portfolio. “Our initial focus is chicken; once we`ve managed to commercialize a production process for clean chicken meat then we`ll translate the technology to other species such as beef, pork etc,” Savir said.
For local consumers in Israel as well as for Jews and Muslims around the world, the question arises as to whether lab-grown meat will meet religious dietary laws.
“We’ve discussed the notion of clean meat with leading religious authorities in Israel and received promising responses stating that in high probability it will be considered Kosher and therefore also Halal,” Savir said.