As the world becomes increasingly aware of meat consumption’s environmental and ethical implications, interest in finding a more sustainable alternative for real meat rises. Consequently, recent scientific achievements went further and introduced ‘clean meat’. This publication is a complete guide to understanding the artificial meat industry and investing in clean meat stocks.
What is Clean Meat?
Clean meat is real meat acquired without slaughtering the animal. It is known by many names, such as cultured meat, cell-based meat, and cultivated meat, and is created in a laboratory environment to reduce the number of animals killed for food.
Artificial meat is created out of animal cells. First, the cells are extracted from the muscle tissue and then nurtured until multiplied. Finally, cells grow into strands, and strands are combined to create meat.
Even though clean meat production is still young, many startups are already creating animal-free meat and leather with the funds raised through venture capital. If advertised and developed as a business, artificial meat could replace the traditional one and bring huge environmental benefits.
Whatsmore, factory farming requires vast land, energy, and water consumption. Predictions are that by the year 2050, the global need for meat will increase by 70%. The amount of vacant arable land would not be sufficient to produce enough meat for the global population.
On the other hand, cell-based meat production calls for 95% less land and could free up thousands of hectares. Also, it will help slow climate changes as the kettle produces methane that causes greenhouse gas emissions.
What is ‘Plant-Based’ Meat?
Plant-based meat (PBM) is meat made out of plants. The purpose of creating PBM is for it to resemble the actual meat in texture, smell, and taste almost entirely. Nowadays, one can find such products in the frozen food sections of most supermarkets.
Plant-based meat is made out of vegetable protein turned into meat-like products and can come in the form of steaks, burgers, nuggets, sausages, ground meat, crumbles, shrimp, and many others.
These forms of PBM are divided into two categories, restructured meat and whole muscle meat. Restructured meat group encompasses sausages, ground beef, nuggets, etc. At the same time, whole muscle meat products impersonate chicken breast, steak, and other animal muscles.
If more people turned to traditional meat alternatives, multiple health concerns could be put to rest. For example, recent scientific research shows that frequent processed and red meat consumption links to an increased mortality rate. For instance, according to the US National Cancer Institute, a high intake of red meat is associated with different types of cancer. Whatsmore, as stated by other sources, increased red meat consumption could even lead to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Moreover, the World Health Organization classified meat products such as bacon, beef jerky, and sausages as cancerogenic and other red meat products such as beef, lamb, and pork as most likely cancerogenic.
Simply put, plant-based meat is healthier as it doesn’t contain cholesterol, a fat-like substance present in meat and dairy products. While on the other hand, full of fibre, a beneficial nutrient that is missing from animal products.
Recent environmental developments are also pushing the meat revolution forward, apart from growing health concerns. Plant-based meat is better for the environment because it is more sustainable than conventional meat.
Traditional meat production requires vast amounts of land and is one of the leading causes of deforestation, which, in turn, is driving climate change. Besides, PBM production causes thirty to ninety per cent less greenhouse gas emission than conventional meat production, less water pollution, and is overall much kinder to the planet.
The History of Plant-Based Meat
It isn’t easy to pinpoint when and where the veggie meat originated. However, reportedly it has been flourishing in Asia for centuries. Fake meat was initially intended for people transitioning to vegetarianism. In the sixth century, vegetarianism was formally adopted by Chinese Buddhists. By the thirteenth century, faux meat became a culinary speciality served to visitors of the monasteries and Buddhist pilgrims.
According to the New York Times article, the modern-day PBM movement has roots in the 1970s and was forged by the book ‘Diet for a Small Planet’ by Frances Moore Lappé. Lappé stressed how turning to vegetarianism may help solve world hunger as less food would go to animals and feed people instead.
The first alternative meat production kicked off around ten years ago when Beyond Meat’ started making plant-based burgers.
The company founder claimed that if they manage to create meat that would be identical in taste, smell, and texture as the one derived from animals, there wouldn’t be any reason for meat consumers not to turn to a plant-derived alternative.
How Faux Meat is Made
Chris Davis, the Director of Research and Development at Impossible Foods, a company famous for creating the Impossible Burger, explained the process of creating fake burgers.
He explained the first step is understanding what makes the beef taste so delicious. Firstly, the researchers created a list of all the beef’s features and placed it in a database. Then, they searched for a plant-based substitute that would be able to mimic these features.
What they found was that soy-based burgers didn’t provide an authentic taste. But, on the other hand, potato protein and textured wheat did offer a satisfactory texture.
The next step was to isolate an ingredient that gave beef its flavour. That ingredient is called ‘heme’. Heme is a molecule that can be found in the muscle, and it is what constitutes most of the beef. Researchers found that they can use yeast to replace heme and create similarly flavoured burgers. Finally, they added coconut oil as a replacement for fat.
Another famous veggie burger is the ‘Beyond Burger’. Unlike the Impossible Burger, it is created out of pea protein, coconut, and canola oil for fat and beet juice to mimic beef blood. Customers can purchase these burgers in meat sections of better-equipped grocery stores.
Difference Between ‘Plant-Based’ and ‘Clean Meat’
Removing animals from the meat production process eliminates plenty of rising concerns about the environment, hunger, climate, and health. So far, there are two approaches to creating meat without using animals, plant-based meat (PBM) and cell-based meat (CBM).
In addition to traditional PBM such as Tofu, a new approach considering enhanced sensory characteristics emerged not long ago. CBM is produced by muscles or fat cells instead of living cattle, chickens, and pigs.
The main ingredients of PBM are relatively inexpensive. Plant-derived meat is usually made of pea protein, wheat protein, or soy. According to USA farmers, the prices of these proteins are several times lower than the cost of maintaining factory farms. In addition, ingredients like soy or wheat are often added to animal meat to reduce the cost of manufacture.
Nevertheless, the retail cost of veggie meat still tends to be the same or higher than the traditional meat prices. The potential cause of this may be that additional fat and colours go into the PBM and, subsequently, raise the cost.
Cell-based meat is a relatively new concept, and it didn’t find its way to retail yet. What may hinder the commercialization process is the cost of production.
The first laboratory-grown burger was made in 2013, and it cost 280.000$ to create. The burger was more of an attempt to prove the feasibility of lab-grown meat rather than an effort to start production at that cost. The In Vitro Meat Consortium estimated that CBM may cost twice as much as chicken due to the manufacturing expenses. The same study suggests that one kg of lab-grown meat may cost somewhere from 11$ to 520$.
Protein-based meat is regulated like other non-animal meat. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) approve all food for public safety. Most of the ingredients that go into PBMs have already been approved for consumption. New ingredients would need to be evaluated by the government bodies before they are added to any products.
The European Commission introduced an ‘EU Protein Plan’ in 2018. The plan supports the manufacture of alternative proteins for human use.
When it comes to CBM, in the United States, its production will be under the jurisdiction of the FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). FDA will regulate development, storage, and cell isolation, while USDA will monitor the remaining process of placing the product on the market and labelling.
Potential hindrances to the regulation process:
- If manufacturers decide to use GM cells as an ingredient
- Potential labelling issues. In other words, will regulatory bodies allow traditional meat alternatives to be labelled as ‘meat’?
The acceptance of PBM products varies from country to country. According to a survey, the welcome rate of Chinese and Indian consumers is around 62%, while for USA consumers, it is 33%. On the other hand, the willingness to distance from animal-based products(ABM) is quite lower in Europe. European consumers are not fully open to meat alternatives because of a lack of familiarity with the product and the production process. Also, there is insufficient sensory attractiveness, meaning the veggie meat doesn’t resemble the ABM enough to make the change.
Unlike its plant-based counterparts, CBM is not intended for vegetarians but meat-eaters. A clean meat consumer acceptance study found that consumers’ main worries when transiting to artificial food are unnaturalness, taste, safety, price, and texture.
Potential users can perceive clean meat as unnatural and therefore unappealing. However, educating consumers about the environmental benefits might positively affect the acceptance rate.
Nevertheless, using terms such as cell-based, artificially grown, and lab meat didn’t resonate well with the consumers. Instead, expressions such as ‘animal-free’ and ‘clean’ produced more positive reactions.
Taste, Smell, Touch, and Sight
There are four main properties of meat. Taste, aroma, texture and look. PBM mimics ABM by color, structure, and fat in lean muscle. Raw products aim to be as similar to traditional meat as possible. They use thermostable fruit and extracts from vegetables like beet as well as engineered heme protein to create the colour resembling raw meat. The colour will turn brown once cooked.
Manufacturers place veggie fat like coconut oil or cocoa butter to create the fat resemblance. Some plant proteins have a bitter and unappealing taste. Such as soy. Soy products have grassy flavours due to certain compounds. These compounds can be reduced through cooking. Soy leghemoglobin (LegH) adds flavour and meat-like quality to PBM products.
To increase the chances of being accepted by a mainstream consumer, clean meat products must be identical to or even better in taste than traditional animal meat. For example, the first lab-made burger, created in 2013, was almost equivalent in taste to the real thing. However, some critics mentioned it wasn’t as juicy as real beef.
Since then, manufacturers have focused on creating fat tissue, as fat contributes to taste and texture. However, researchers are also examining the effects of adding heme protein such as myoglobin to CBM. Myoglobin is supposed to add bloody flavour to the meat as well as improve its colour.
Companies ‘Impossible Foods’ and ‘Beyond Meat’ have conducted studies assessing environmental impacts associated with their products’ life-cycle stages. PBM requires significantly less land than chicken, pork, and beef coming from animal farms.
When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, veggie meat falls where traditional chicken and pork meat stands. But on the other hand, the energy required to create plant-based meat exceeds the amount needed for animal meat products.
Regarding water consumption, a separate life cycle assessment study claims that one ton of plant-based meat products consumes 3800 m3 of water.
Once the production of clean meat is optimized, it is expected to produce significantly less waste than animal-based meat. The first life cycle assessment was published in 2011, and it estimated CBM would produce 78-86% less greenhouse gas emission, use 82–96% less water, reduce energy consumption by 7-45% and require 99% less land compared to ABM products. A separate life cycle assessment published in 2015, on the other hand, estimates fewer environmental benefits.
Impact on animals
Plant-based meat is free of animal meat. The manufacturing process doesn’t entail animal slaughter. However, some products have additives made of dairy and eggs, making them vegetarian but not vegan.
From the animal welfare perspective, egg and dairy production is a major worry. To produce milk, cows are continuously impregnated and then separated from their calves, resulting in severe emotional distress for the cow.
Vegan PBM also has disadvantageous effects on animals. To meet food requests, natural vegetation needs to be substituted by crops, which destroys the natural habitat for some animals. A good example is palm oil farming in Malaysia which is responsible for decreasing mammal inhabitants.
One of the core benefits of clean meat is the perseverance of animals. Cell supplies are extracted from animal donors and then expanded in vitro. No further input from the animal is needed.
Younger animals tend to have faster cell growth, so they are usually considered cell donors. A veterinarian would extract less than one gram of tissue by a biopsy while the animal is under anaesthesia. Apart from cells, another animal-based aspect of meat production is serum supplementation. The bovine fetal syndrome is also a common additive and is connected to growth factors of the mammalian cell culture.
How Covid Impacted Clean Meat Companies
The coronavirus highly impacted meatpacking industry workers. Only in the United States of America, by September 13th 2020, more than 40.000 workers got ill with Covid. However, the disease struck employees in Europe and other continents as well.
People working in meatpacking were so affected by the virus is not entirely apparent. However, supposedly it is because of the work conditions such as cold, physical closeness, and humidity.
The meatpacking industry sits on many problems, and turning to clean meat can solve plenty of them. Cell-based meat can be produced locally without harming the environment while avoiding unsafe circumstances that caused meatpacking workers to contract the virus.
The cultured meat movement will accelerate due to the changes Covid brought. Consumers are much more interested in knowing what is in their food and where it came from.
Many viruses, such as the coronavirus, are transferred from animals to people by consumption. Cell-based meat eliminates the risk of outbreaks of new diseases. There is far less risk of contamination in the production process. Cells are checked for irregularities and kept sterile, preventing any virus from forming.
How to Invest in the Clean Meat Industry
The artificial meat industry is an up-and-coming industry. According to Barclays, the alternative meat market could reach 140 billion dollars during the next decade. So even though it’s still at the beginning of development, it has vast potential.
Currently, there are no publicly traded companies producing lab-grown meat.
However, many companies are largely investing in the development of cultured meat and could reap the benefits as soon as the artificial meat industry is commercialized.
Tyson Foods, a multinational corporation operating in the food industry, has heavily invested in the clean meat business. In 2018 the company gained a minority share in Memphis Meat, specializing in producing clean meat. Apart from this venture, Tyson Foods has also invested in Beyond Meat, a producer of plant-based meat products.
Tyson’s investments are not to be brushed aside. Instead, they empower small clean meat businesses with funds to grow and develop. Buying Tyson shares could mean investing in the cell-based meat industry from an investment perspective.
Although there are no publicly traded lab-grown meat stocks, some listed companies provide clean meat businesses with the technology supporting their production process.
It’s important to clarify that these companies don’t produce clean meat. Instead, they are old-school industrial companies and are only interested in supporting the clean meat manufacturing process. Here are some of the mentioned stocks: Agilent Technologies A(NYSE), Amyris AMRS(NASDAQ), Archer Daniels Midland Venture Capital ADM(NYSE), Bell Food Group BELL(SWX), Neto Group NTO(TLV).
Having said that, below, we created two lists of companies related to clean meat production. One of which contains companies supporting the clean meat production process and the other – not listed clean meat companies.
Listed Clean Meat Stocks
Beyond Meat is a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown. The company launched its initial products in the United States in 2012. Beyond Meat is a leading producer of plant-based meat products for beef, pork, and poultry.
Beyond meat produces:
1. Chicken strips
The company’s first product was Chicken Fajita, launched in 2012. It imitated chicken and was sold frozen. They were made from various ingredients such as soy powder, carrot fiber, and gluten-free flour. They were then fed into a food extrusion machine, which produces a chicken-like texture by forcing the mixture through a special process. Although celebrities praised its taste, the journalists who tried it said it was not worth eating. It was discontinued in 2019.
2. Beyond Burger
In 2014, the company announced that it had developed a product that mimicked a beef burger. It got released in 2015. These burgers are made from pea protein isolates, rice protein, and mung bean protein. They are also made from various oil and starch sources.
3. Beyond Sausage
In 2017, the company introduced Beyond Sausage, a plant-based alternative to pork sausage. The product line included three varieties of the popular “sausage”.
4. Beyond Meatballs
Beyond Meatballs, made from plant-based proteins, were first introduced at Subway in 2019. Through the Beyond Meatball Marinara sub. In September 2020, Beyond Meat launched its Beyond Meatballs at select stores across the country.
Agronomics focuses on opportunities in the Life Science sector, which revolves around developing bio-based and sustainable solutions for the environment. The company focuses on investing in cellular agriculture, cellular aquaculture, and alternative protein production. Their centre of attention is on early-stage investments in the Life Sciences sector. The company aims to bring these opportunities to the public markets.
Meat-Tech 3D is an Israeli-based startup aspiring to produce the world’s first cell-based steak. The company aims to create a steak with the same texture and taste like the traditional one. As of February 2022, Meat-Tech 3D has raised 9 million dollars in funding.
It is listed on the Tel-Aviv stock exchange with the symbol $MEAT and the Nasdaq under the $MITC symbol.
The company uses integrated 3D printing technology to aid the process of cultivated meat creation.
Company Website: https://meatech3d.com
Neto Group (Neto M.E Holdings Ltd.)
Established in 1940, the Neto Group is one of Israel’s largest food conglomerates. The company is importing, distributing and marketing kosher food.
The group consists of multiple brands. They are:
● Tibon Veal – An Israeli leading frozen meat
brand. Highest standards of meat production. They import and buy locally,
market and distribute fresh and processed, refrigerated, or frozen meat.
● Delidag – They import and buy locally,
market, and distribute fresh, refrigerated, or frozen fish.
● Williger – They produce canned tuna and
import canned products. They operate with fish products and dry grocery goods.
● The Three Bakers – They produce, market,
import, and distribute frozen bakery products.
● Magic – Magic produces ready-to-eat noodle
products that take very little preparation.
● El Gaucho – South American grill
restaurant. The food comes from Argentina, and the restaurant offers a full
South American experience of grilled meat.
● Rich’s – Creating non-dairy products as a
substitute for milk, baking cream, and whipped cream.
Company website: https://www.neto.org.il/en
VanEck is an American investment firm. The company was founded in 1955 and is privately held.
In December 2021, the firm announced that it would be launching a “Future of Food” ETF. The goal of the product is to provide exposure to companies involved in the development of agri-food innovation and technology.
The symbol for the ETF will be YUMY. Ammar James and Shawn Reynolds will manage the VanEck YUMY.
Reynolds said that climate change and the increasing global population also drive the need for sustainable agricultural processes and technologies. He continued by explaining that the worldwide agri-food market is in its early stages of transformation, and there are plenty of opportunities to grow in this space. However, the market is still nascent, and many companies are just starting to explore the possibility of entering the public markets.
James said that innovation is needed to meet the growing demands of the food industry, but they also have to consider the environmental impacts of their products.
Company website: https://www.vaneck.com/
Unlisted Clean Meat Companies
Upside Foods was formerly known as Memphis Meats. In January 2020, the company collected 161 million dollars in series B fundraising from high-profile investors such as Tyson Foods, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates. So far, the company has managed to produce beef meatballs, fried chicken, and duck meat.
They claim to produce food from high-quality animal cells. They are turning the cells into meat by providing them with nutrients. This process is called ‘Essential Nutrition’. Their goal is to keep the benefits of conventional meat while making products healthier, safer, and more nutritious. In addition, they strive to make meat better for the environment and healthier for people by using significantly less land and water and creating a smaller amount of waste while substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Upside Foods was founded in 2015 by cardiologist Uma Valeti.
The company is privately owned.
Company Website: https://www.upsidefoods.com/
Mosa Meat is a European food technology company responsible for creating the first burger from lab-grown meat in 2013. As of February 2022, it has raised ninety-six million dollars in funding and hopes to introduce artificial meat to retail quickly.
They claim to select the healthiest cows from which they extract 0.5-gram samples under anaesthesia. Afterwards, the cow is free to return to the field.
In 2013 the company’s Chief Scientific Officer, Professor Mark Post, presented the first clean meat burger to the world. The burger cost a staggering €250,000 to make, and its production was funded by the co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin.
Mosa Meat was founded in 2016. Headquarters is in Maastricht, Netherland.
The company is privately owned.
Company Website: https://mosameat.com/
Future Meat Technologies
Future Meat Technologies also successfully got funds from high ticket investors such as Tyson Foods, scoring $14 million in Series A funding. During Series B funding, Future Meat Technologies raised $347 million.
Future Meat Technologies develops meat from GMO-free animal cells that grow indefinitely without products or materials that contain an animal-derived ingredient.
Future Meat Technologies claims their cells are not grown in chicken coops, meat processing factories, or barns but patented bioreactors. As a result, products are indistinguishable from animal-based meat.
This distributive technology is sustainable and cost-effective. Moreover, the manufacturers can quickly adapt to the demand changes in the market due to rapid growth cycles.
Their cells show fast growth, doubling in mass every 24 hours. As a result, the producers can change lamb, chicken, and beef production within a few weeks’ notice, thanks to the manufacturing process that lasts only two weeks. In addition, they managed to reduce the volume of feed media used in manufacturing by 20-folds due to their unique rejuvenating bioreactor design.
Professor Yaakov Nahmias founded this Israeli-based company in 2018
Company Website: http://www.future-meat.com
Meatable is a Dutch company aiming to find a way of producing real meat without harm to animals. Founded in 2018, it has since collected $172.8 million. (as of February 2022).
They claim their meat doesn’t contain any antibiotics. Their goal is to transform the meat industry and stop its negative impact on animal welfare and climate change. At the same time, they work on increasing food safety without compromising the taste and culinary experience of real meat.
Company Website: http://www.meatable.com
Eat Just, Inc.
JUST is looking to build healthier, safer food systems. They are a privately owned company with a mission to turn public soon.
They took five years to research and find a plant that would mimic an egg scramble once prepared. This plant is called a mung bean and is rich in protein. Mung beans are species in the legume family, and they have been around for thousands of years but were never used in this particular way.
Allegedly, when you pour JUST Egg into a skillet, it sizzles like a traditional egg and cooks into a breakfast scramble. However, JUST Egg doesn’t contain cholesterol and has more unsaturated fat than conventional eggs, with nearly the same protein. In addition, this protein source is sustainable because its ingredients need less land, carbon emissions, and water to make.
They are looking for tools to make more sustainable and healthy food while keeping it tasty. They cooperate with Michelin-starred chefs, top-notch product developers, and rural farmers to fulfil their mission.
Company Website: https://www.ju.st/
Japanese startup whose ultimate goal is to develop a ‘SpaceSalt’ project to enable sustainable food production in space.
They are also deserving of creating the first cultured foie gras in 2017. Integriculture is a cellular agriculture platform company. They are inventing sustainable protein and clean meat. Also, they offer their technology and production capacity to other companies interested to develop products from cells.
They believe cultured meat is the holy grail to sustainable protein.
Integriculture has developed a system to market lab-grown meat at lower prices. The system is called the ‘CulNet System’, and it is growing cells four to five orders of magnitude less expensive.
The company was founded by Yuki Hanyu in 2015 and currently has a headquarters in Tokyo.
Company Website: https://integriculture.jp/
Because Animals is a company producing clean meat for pets. It aspires to create nutritious pet food without hurting any animals.
The company was founded in 2016 by Shannon Falconer and Joshua Errett.
The motive to develop clean pet meat lay in the shelter’s unhealthy and over-processed food pets were fed. So now, they are on the mission to make the healthiest and most sustainable food for dogs and cats. The company headquarters is in Chicago, USA.
Company Website: https://becauseanimals.com/
THIS™ offers meat-free food and beverage services. The company’s location is in London, England and is not yet available for stock market trading.
According to their Linkedin profile, THIS has secured US$ 15.3M in series A funding.
Company website: https://this.co/contact/
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This article was last updated on February 24th, 2022.