Although fish are one of the best dietary sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), these compounds are mostly bioaccumulated from a fish’s diet rather than synthesized de novo. Consistent with this, studies have found evidence of reduced omega-3 content in fish as a result of replacing fish-based feed with plant-based feed. Therefore, for cultivated fish to compete with conventionally-produced products, it will be necessary to identify cost-effective strategies for increasing the content of nutritionally-important omega-3 FAs in cultivated fish.
Raw Materials, Ingredients, & Inputs
A number of published studies have focused on scaffolds for cultivated meat (see Related Efforts) yet, to our knowledge, no studies have specifically attempted to formulate scaffolds for fish or tested growth of fish cells on scaffolds developed for terrestrial meat. Because fish uniquely differ from terrestrial meat in structure, research aimed specifically at developing and testing scaffolds for fish products would advance the industry. Both scaffolding materials as well as methods for achieving the correct three-dimensional structure should be investigated.
Improving our understanding of the relative advantages and disadvantages of different cell types for cultivated meat would enable companies to make these decisions more effectively with less duplicative effort.
Crop plants used as recombinant protein production hosts could offer benefits of minimal processing, cheaper equipment, and fewer downstream purification costs.
Opportunities exist to coordinate product development partnerships between ingredient suppliers, strategic partners, and product manufacturers to directly engage more holistically on product formulation.
Open-access research into growth factors required for proliferation, maintenance, and differentiation of cell types relevant to cultivated meat will support both academic and industry research efforts. This research could include screening of species-specific growth factors under a variety of conditions and in a variety of cell types to characterize cross-species compatibility, which informs commercial efforts to scale production of the most widely used growth factors. Research should also seek to define optimal concentrations of individual growth factors and cocktails for achieving various cell states or behaviors, as well as understanding interactions between growth factors.
Companies entering the alt protein space often struggle to secure line time at demonstration-scale and mid-scale commercial production facilities. Greater availability of mid-scale contract capacity would reduce capital outlays and facilitate scaling, allowing alt protein companies to maintain greater control over their equity and exercise more influence within the supply chain. Contracting production allows for a more modular supply chain, with participants achieving gains from specialization, allowing for better financial and organizational structuring around core competencies.
Infrastructure leasing for production and processing facilities as well as capital equipment would enable alternative protein companies to rapidly expand capacity without large upfront capital investments. Having leasing funds and leasing companies with an alternative protein focus could entice corporate players who otherwise would not have considered alternative proteins to enter the space. They could also spare many smaller alternative protein startups from undertaking relatively expensive, equity-backed capital raises early in their expansion.
Rather than relying on recombinant growth factors, cultivated meat companies could use conditioned media from animal cells producing high levels of these molecules.
Microbial fermentation may be able to help us produce lipids that are identical or similar to animal fats—especially saturated fats, which are exceedingly rare in the plant kingdom.