Good news, cats and dogs: you can now legally eat lab-grown meat.
The milestone comes courtesy of a world-first permit for cultivated pet food. Czech startup Bene Meat Technologies received the inaugural license from the EU on Wednesday.
The company can now produce and sell the futuristic cuisine, which is made from cells taken from living animals.
After extraction, the cells are placed in a bioreactor and grown into muscle tissue. The flesh is then formed into the desired shape.
The process could reduce emissions and prevent animal suffering, while creating meat that’s indistinguishable from farmed produce. It could also be big business: McKinsey predicts the market could reach $25bn by 2030.
This cash is projected to come primarily from human consumption, but Bene Meat is focused on our furry friends. The company proffers several reasons for this strategy.
One is the product’s cost. Cultivated meat is notoriously expensive to develop, but Bene Meat claims that it can offer competitive costs.
“We will be targeting a similar price level as existing premium pet food ingredients,” Tomáš Kubeš, the startup’s head of strategic projects, told TNW. “This differentiates us from existing competitors.”
Bene Meat is also confident about the product demand. Pet food supply chains have been disrupted since Covid-19 shut down production and delayed shipments. Costs have also continued rising since the pandemic.
At the same time, consumers have become increasingly concerned about pet food products — which have a pretty shoddy reputation.
“Cultured meat is the perfect solution as it provides a rich source of protein which is natural for pets, while being more ethical and sustainable compared to animal-based products,” Kubeš said.
Bene Meat is also bullish about the quality of the food, although the startup is reticent to reveal exactly what it is.
Kubeš said the registered product is “cultivated cells of mammalian origin.” He adds that all the necessary details are shared with authorities and manufacturers.
The company, however, will not disclose which animal is the source of the food. For now, we can only guess.
The mystery will hopefully be revealed once the products are on shelves — which could happen soon. The precise date for the market entry will depend on deals with manufacturers, but Bene Meat is targeting next year. Samples will also soon be available, in case your pet — or you — wants to be a guinea pig.