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.
Raw Materials, Ingredients, & Inputs
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.
The cultivated meat industry needs dedicated suppliers of low-cost, food-grade cell culture media to reduce cultivated meat production costs. Close collaboration between the customer and supplier will be required in many cases due to the need for formulations to be optimized for specific cell lines.
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.
Cultivated seafood will need to be supplemented with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to be nutritionally equivalent or superior to conventional seafood. However, how these compounds can best be incorporated has not been determined, and there are several potentially-viable strategies. Further research is needed to determine which strategies are most cost-effective and scalable and whether there are appreciable differences between methods in the quality of the final product.
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.
Enabling easy animal ingredient substitutions in a wide range of food products.