The cost and environmental impact of cultivated meat are driven by the cell culture media formulation and its conversion efficiency into meat. Metabolic modeling and engineering techniques can aid media formulation and ensure its optimal use. Targeted optimization will improve the cost-competitiveness and sustainability of cultivated meat production.
Consumer education on the food safety of cultivated meat can positively impact consumer acceptance when sufficient information is provided. Additional research and efforts to increase transparent science communication on the food safety benefits of cultivated meat are needed.
Sterilization guidelines from well-established biomedical and food industries can act as helpful templates for safe cultivated meat production. However, more research is needed to identify potentially novel production hazards for regulators to understand the unique requirements for cultivated meat.
The inclusion of fat and marbling in cultivated meat is likely to increase its flavor, texture, and consumer appeal. Structural approaches using edible microcarriers, hydrogels, and 3D bioprinting present promising options to support fat cell growth and reduce buoyancy in culture for integrating fat into cuts of meat, but more research is needed to optimize conditions.
Hybrid products are a promising means to improve the cost and sustainability of animal-derived meat while improving the taste of plant proteins. Promoting the health benefits of hybrids may facilitate consumer acceptance, but more research is needed to identify the optimal blend ratios to increase nutrition without compromising flavor.
Meticulous attention to sterility controls throughout cultivated meat production is essential to optimize food safety, but the cost of biopharmaceutical-based sterility—the current standard for cell-based processes—is incongruent with large-scale food production. Research to identify alternative sterility processes with lower costs is needed for cultivated meat to scale successfully.
To expand the technical talent pipeline, various players in the alternative protein field should reach out to scientists and engineers in relevant disciplines (e.g., biotech, biopharma, and food science) to inform them of opportunities to apply their existing expertise to this field. Efforts should target students and seasoned professionals.
A variety of plant-based scaffolds present the opportunity to combine the natural nutritional and structural benefits of plants with the taste and high protein of cultivated meat. Bacterial nanocellulose from coconut water is a particularly promising scaffold material with its FDA approval status and beneficial nutritional and cell adhesion properties.
The identification of non-animal, non-recombinant proteins with similar functionality to serum albumin and transferrin will lead to major cost reductions in cell culture media development, facilitating progress toward achieving price parity with cultivated meat.
The manufacturing capacity for rapid and cost-effective scale-up of alternative protein production is a current constraint on the growth of the industry. Repurposing and retrofitting stranded or underutilized assets such as shuttered bioethanol plants can help mitigate some of the financial hurdles and shorten the amount of time required for companies to expand production.