Tastes like Chicken: Lab Meat Maker Draws New Funding

April 22, 2022

Lab meat growers ready to slaughter the old ways.
Still “playing with taste and texture”.

Wall Street Journal:

Upside Foods has privately raised $400 million from investors including the Abu Dhabi Growth Fund and Scottish fund manager Baillie Gifford, company officials said, a vote of confidence that Upside’s lab-grown meat can gain regulatory approval and be sold to U.S. consumers.

Formerly called Memphis Meats, Upside is one of several startups attempting to produce edible meat in a lab using animal cells cultivated in large brewery-like facilities. Upside hasn’t sold products to the public but expects to sell chicken after U.S. regulatory approval. The company also has made beef, pork and duck products.

So-called cultured meat is one of two fast-growing alternatives to meat produced by traditionally farmed animals, the other being plant-based products. Proponents say lab-grown meat could reduce the need for animal antibiotics and help decarbonize the food industry by reducing land and water usage as well as emissions. It could also eventually cut the time it takes to produce meat products and simplify supply chains, they say.

Still, the products have so far only been approved to sell to consumers in Singapore and cost much more than meat produced by killing animals.

The Series C fundraising round is one of the largest ever in the nascent cultured-meat industry’s history and values Berkeley, Calif.-based Upside at more than $1 billion, the company said. The round was co-led by the government-owned Abu Dhabi Growth Fund and existing investor Temasek Holdings Ltd., a Singaporean government investment firm. Tyson Foods Inc., Cargill Inc. and other existing investors including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. also participated. The company raised $161 million in a Series B financing in 2020.

4 Responses to “Tastes like Chicken: Lab Meat Maker Draws New Funding”

  1. Gingerbaker Says:

    Good luck to them – they are going to need it:

    https://thecounter.org/lab-grown-cultivated-meat-cost-at-scale/

  2. gmrmt Says:

    So we have the production learning curve chasing cultured meats’ costs down and political problems and climate effects (including carbon pricing) driving conventional production costs up. Where the meet won’t be a straightforward point. As cultured gets close to matching cost ranchers will begin a flurry of selling off herds. Cheap steaks!
    Of course some entrepreneurs will look at culturing nontraditional and exotic meats. Panda steaks anyone?
    And I’m just going to leave this right here.
    Long Pork.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      The article I linked to says that the production curve is chasing cultured meat’s costs UP, not down.

      Evidently, you can make small batches at a high price, but making bigger batches escalates the price because contamination ruins larger batches. The whole thing needs to be done under completely sterile conditions with a pharmaceutical grade facility which costs billions. And you would need hundreds of such facilities to produce meat at scale.

      The tech is basically impossible at cost-effective prices, but…. it is really good at coaxing investment from ideologically-motivated speculators. Which is why all the news re cultured meat has to do with monies raised and not about product sold.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        …but making bigger batches escalates the price because contamination ruins larger batches.

        This is somewhat analogous to the problem of scaling up livestock production: More crowding means more issues of infection and increases the probability of viral outbreaks, resulting in mass nonproductive slaughter* of the affected animals. In the higher densities poop builds up much faster than natural processes can break them down.

        As for scaling up of lab production batches, as with pharmaceutical production I’d expect the ability to handle/prevent problems would become a profit differentiator among competitors. Best Practices at minimizing contamination or the-syntho-meat-equivalent-of-cancer would be rewarded.

        As for investors in any new tech: The majority of early investments are lost, but the winners can reach the moon.

        _________
        *I found it interesting to hear the cattle-raiser lamenting having to euthanize her stock, which felt so different from selling it to someone who will kill them anyway.


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