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.
Growth factors (GFs) can be incorporated into scaffolds as a strategy for both reducing costs and improving product quality of cultivated meat. Open-access research is needed to test the feasibility of this strategy and determine the most appropriate methods.
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.
Efficient and cost-effective cultivated fish production will require precise optimization to encourage fast proliferation and highly efficient use of inputs while preventing premature differentiation. A variety of strategies can be employed to adjust various factors that contribute to these properties, including optimizing the starting cell line, improving the composition of the proliferation medium, and exploring the possibility of transdifferentiating easy-to-grow cell lines like fibroblasts into myogenic and adipogenic lineages.
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 date, no robust environmental assessments have been conducted to compare alternative seafood to its conventional counterparts. An open-access, quantitative analysis of the relative environmental impacts of alternative seafood will help garner support for the industry from policymakers, nonprofit organizations, consumers, investors, foodservice outlets, and retailers.
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.
Stretching of engineered muscle constructs has been previously demonstrated to induce alignment and maturation of muscle fibers, which is desirable for whole cut cultivated meat. Stretch stimuli could also be incorporated into a semi-continuous bioprocess in which a piece of tissue is expanded over time and portions of the tissue periodically harvested. The large amount of meat produced could offset the high initial cost of fabricating a construct capable of continuous growth.