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March 11, 2021updated 02 Jul 2021 6:25pm

Cell-based meat “could be cost-competitive by 2030”

New research has predicted how much meat created in a lab will cost compared to conventional meat by 2030.

By Andy Coyne

New research has suggested that meat created in a lab could be cost-competitive with conventional meat by 2030.

The high cost of producing meat from animal cells – without harming the animal – has long been seen as a major barrier to commercialising the resulting products but now Dutch research group CE Delft has suggested that picture is changing.

Its studies model a future large-scale cultivated meat production facility and show that by 2030 the cost of cultivated meat, when manufactured at scale, could drop to US$5.66 per kg.

“This production cost will enable cultivated meat to compete with multiple forms of conventional meat or serve as a high-quality ingredient in plant-based meat products,” it said.

It claims its life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic assessment (TEA), supported by the organisations The Good Food Institute (GFI) and Gaia, are the first studies to use data from companies active in the cultivated meat supply chain. 

It also found that cultivated meat has a much lower impact on the environment than conventional meat.

GFI senior scientist Elliot Swartz said: "As soon as 2030, we expect to see real progress on costs for cultivated meat and massive reductions in emissions and land use brought about by the transition to this method of meat production. 

"This research signals a vote of confidence and serves as a practical roadmap for the industry to address technical and economic bottlenecks, which will further reduce climate impacts and costs. 

"Government investment in R&D and infrastructure will be critical to accelerating the development of cultivated meat and help us achieve global climate goals. Favourable policies and carbon markets can incentivise the restoration of agricultural land for its carbon sequestration and ecosystem services potential, maximising the climate benefits of cultivated meat." 

The LCA showed that cultivated meat, when produced using renewable energy, reduces the cumulative environmental impacts of conventional beef by approximately 93%, pork by 53%, and chicken by 29%. 

CE Delft senior researcher Ingrid Odegard said: "With this analysis, we show that cultivated meat presents as an achievable low-carbon, cost-competitive agricultural technology that can play a major role in achieving a carbon-neutral food system. 

"This research provides a solid base on which companies can build, improve and advance in their goal of producing cultivated meat sustainably at scale and at a competitive price point." 

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