Cultured meat (or meat grown outside the animal) has been making headlines lately — but when it comes to general consumer awareness, companies still have a long way to go.
That’s the disconnect that Aleph Farms is trying to bridge with two new initiatives it announced today. First, the Israeli startup, which is growing cell-based steak, announced in a press release today that it’s opening an educational complex next to its Israeli production facility to give the public a more in-depth view of cultured meat. Literally. The center will allow people to actually see how the company grows its steak cells.
You can’t just waltz right in to peek behind the curtain, though. Interested parties have to submit a request to tour the facility. According to a press release, the center will admit groups of up to 20 people, and visitor priority will be given to “student delegations, academy, non-governmental and non-profit organizations.” As far as I know, this will be the first such official visitor center for a cell-based meat company.
Aleph Farms is putting special emphasis on the student angle — and younger people in general. The startup also announced today that it had launched something called a “Z-Board.” This advisory board is made up entirely of Generation Z (that is, people under 25). Z-Board members will “be partners in Aleph’s vision of developing a sustainable food system and building a transparent relationship with consumers and young communities.”
It’s not exactly clear how Aleph’s Z-Board will do all of those things (Leading social media campaigns? Giving insight into Gen Z purchasing behavior?) However, it is telling that the Israeli company is so intent on targeting younger consumers. Gen Z not only has significant buying power, they’re also the ones who will likely be the most open to trying cell-based meat. The demographic is also more highly motivated by ethical and environmental concerns than older groups, both of which could lead them to support cultured meat.
Aleph Farms has been taking big steps to grow its footprint over the past year. Last May the company announced it had grown muscle tissue in space, just a few months after it closed a $12 million fundraise.
Compared to those tidbits, news of a visitor center and Gen Z-centered board may seem pretty lackluster. However, I think it illustrates how Aleph Farms is playing the long game. The startup realizes that cultured meat will face a myriad of challenges in its trek towards the market, from scaling to cost to regulation. With its new initiatives, Aleph Farms is working to ensure that consumer understanding and acceptance isn’t one of them.