Key findings and future directions

Earlier this year, independent consultancy CE Delft published a life cycle assessment and a techno-economic analysis of a large-scale cultivated meat production facility model. These studies show that by the year 2030, cultivated meat could have a lower carbon footprint and reduced overall environmental impacts compared to conventional meat production, while being cost-competitive with some conventional meat. As the industry scales and cultivated meat production becomes more efficient beyond 2030, further cost decreases and environmental impact reductions are expected. 

Data from industry partners

Unlike previous assessments that relied on academic projections, these new studies were informed by data collected from more than 15 industry partners, including five cultivated meat companies and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Even though these studies paint the most complete picture of the costs and environmental impacts of large-scale cultivated meat production to date, data gaps still exist. Assumptions may change as the nascent cultivated meat industry matures.

The insights from the reports can prioritize efforts to address the most pressing technical and economic bottlenecks, thus accelerating the development and scalable deployment of cultivated meat.

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The environmental impact of cultivated meat production

Elliot and CE Delft LCA Specialist Pelle Sinke, M.Sc., review the updated data on the environmental impacts of cultivated meat versus conventional meat. Powered by data from over 15 companies across the cultivated meat supply chain, they address emissions, land use, water use, air pollution, feed conversion, and more.

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The costs and environmental impacts of cultivated meat

GFI Senior Scientist Elliot Swartz, Ph.D., explains the key insights from a recent life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic analysis (TEA) modeling a future large-scale cultivated meat production facility.

GFI’s summaries and commentary on the LCA/TEA reports

Our experts provide summaries of the LCA/TEA data in the resources below. 

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Technical summary

This summary highlights the key technical insights from the LCA and TEA, calling attention to areas where costs or environmental impacts can be further decreased and where knowledge gaps still exist. This report also discusses areas of focus for technology development that are likely to reduce future costs and environmental impacts.

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Stakeholder summary

Successful and efficient development and deployment of cultivated meat will require contributions across a wide variety of stakeholder groups — scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, governments, and nonprofits. This report recommends actions that can help realize the many potential benefits of large-scale cultivated meat production. 

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Policy summary

This fact sheet — intended specifically for policymakers — summarizes the key findings from the LCA and TEA and outlines recommended actions to facilitate cultivated meat’s development, promote clear labeling, and ensure consumer safety.

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Statement addressing TEA analyses

Techno-economic models are fundamental tools for exploring and prioritizing areas that warrant further research.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2024/02/feature lca comment letter

GFI summary of the CE Delft TEA Corrigendum

GFI’s overview of CE Delft’s TEA Corrigendum, which corrects an error in the initial report and re-analyzes cost projections.

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Critique of other LCA studies

Addressing the inaccuracies of a pre-print LCA study that claims cultivated meat could have a carbon footprint 25x higher than beef.

Delve into the science of the full reports

These LCA and TEA studies, conducted by CE Delft, are the first to use primary data from multiple cultivated meat companies. The assessments also incorporated data from companies throughout the cultivated meat supply chain. All data were cross-checked by independent experts. Analyzing the results of both studies shows areas of overlap in factors that reduce both costs and environmental footprint: energy efficiency, energy source, efficient use and production of cell culture medium, and collaborations across the supply chain.

The LCA and TEA were conducted by the Dutch firm CE Delft. GFI and the European organization GAIA commissioned the LCA, and GFI commissioned the TEA. 

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