Cultured meat pioneer Mosa Meat has opened a new plant for large-scale production of cultured meat burgers. Yet European approval to commercialise meat from cell cultures is still awaited.
Hundreds of thousands of cultured meat burgers a year
In Maastricht on Monday, Mosa Meat opened a new 2760 m² production site for the production of beef burgers from cultured meat. With this large-scale plant alongside the existing pilot plants, the company now has a total of 7,340 m² of production space. Here, the manufacturer says it can produce as many as hundreds of thousands of cultured meat burgers annually.
These will initially be sold in Singapore, in partnership with a local contract manufacturer. After all, commercialising hamburgers made from cultured meat is not yet possible in Europe for the time being. Although many startups are active in developing cultured meat, not one has so far applied for approval from the European Food Safety Authority. Mosa Meat hints that it is now almost ready to do so. Such an approval procedure would take at least nine months.
Barriers hinder breakthrough
Mosa Meat presented the very first hamburger made of cultured meat back in 2013. After a development time of up to a decade, production is now ready to scale up. Cultured meat is sustainable: compared to traditional cattle breeding, production would emit 80% to 90% less greenhouse gases, use 45% less energy, 90% less water and 99% less land. Moreover, no animals have to die for it. However, many barriers still stand in the way of a real breakthrough.
The production cost, for instance, is still very high, although economies of scale will soon remedy this. However, this requires large investments, and the risk remains that authorities will not approve the commercialisation of “in vitro” meat or will only do so after lengthy procedures. Italy recently announced its intention to ban cultured meat. Convincing consumers will be perhaps the most difficult hurdle. Scepticism is high among part of the public.