The State of the Science on Alternative Proteins: January through May 2023

Our top highlights from a busy four months for alt protein science.
State of the science on alternative proteins

US and UK governments make bold moves in support of alternative protein R&D

Following our highlights in the previous State of the Science we are continuing to see positive signals from governments around the world regarding support for alternative protein research. The US and UK governments in particular are taking significant steps to support the development of alternative proteins through increased funding and research initiatives.

In the U.S., a groundbreaking report from the White House and government agencies emphasizes the importance of advancing alternative proteins for sustainability and food security. The report highlights goals such as studying the structural design of alternative protein products, building infrastructure for biomanufacturing, and establishing centers of excellence focused on innovating new products and processes.

Additionally, the UK government has invested £12 million in the Cellular Agriculture Manufacturing Hub, aiming to position the country as a leader in cultivated meat research. However, stakeholders emphasize the need for a transparent regulatory pathway and expanded research investment to ensure the growth and benefits of the sector.

Both the UK and US governments also announced funding opportunities for alternative protein research.

  • The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is offering up to £3 million for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to develop resource-efficient, low-emission foods, particularly proteins.
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Novel Foods and Innovative Manufacturing Technologies program accepting applications, specifically focusing on newly developed foods and food ingredients, including cell-cultured meat, plant protein products, and novel sources/varieties.
  • The US Department of Energy (DoE) is also accepting proposals for its Biological Systems Science subprogram, seeking to understand and improve microbes and plants for biofuels, bioproducts, and biomaterials.

Overall, these funding updates highlight the commitment of the US and UK governments to support research and development in alternative proteins, aiming to drive innovation, sustainability, and economic growth in the field.

Regulatory approvals, partnerships, and environmental benefits fuel optimism for the cultivated meat industry

The emerging cultivated meat industry continues to hit the important milestones it needs in order to become a prominent meat production method.

  • The FDA granted its second safety approval to cultivated meat, confirming its safety on par with conventional methods and affirming that foods derived from cultured chicken cells are as safe as comparable products.
  • Mosa Meat emerged as the pioneering company submitting cultivated meat safety information to E.U. regulators. With a new 30k sq. ft. production facility equipped with 1000L bioreactors for cultivated beef production, their non-GMO approach provides a regulatory advantage.
  • Aleph Farms, a cultivated meat pioneer, partners with Thermo Fisher Scientific to establish a cost-efficient supply chain for growth media, enhancing the production of cultivated meat.
  • A new study performed by CE Delft and GFI, published in The International Journal of LCA reveals that by 2030, cultivated meat production at scale outperforms conventional chicken, pork, and beef production in terms of efficiency, land use, air pollution, soil acidification, and marine eutrophication.

A deeper dive

These updates barely scratch the surface from the first four months of the year. Join our SciTech team as they take you through the major highlights.