Future Meat Technologies announced today it has brought the production cost of its cultured chicken breast product to under $10. The company has also raised an additional $26.75 million in capital to scale up production and get its product into market in the next 12 to 18 months.
Reaching cost parity with traditional meat is a vital step in the process of bringing cultured meat to the wider public. Speaking via a video chat today, Future Meat CEO Rom Kshuk said that getting to price parity with traditional meat has been part of his company’s mission statement from the start. Future Meat, he said has been able to “decrease cost by 1,000 times over the last three years.” As of now, a quarter-pound serving of its cultured chicken breast costs just $7.50 to produce.
Future Meat differs from many alt-protein companies in that it uses a blend of cultured and plant-based ingredients for its products, rather than choosing one or the other, as most companies do. This, Kshuk explained, is something of a “low-hanging fruit” approach since companies can typically get to market faster with a blended product as opposed to developing one that is 100 percent cultured. Kshuk said that right now, Future Meat will “use the best of both worlds” where these two approaches are concerned, though that balance will skew more towards exclusively cultured meat products in future.
For plant-based proteins, the company uses a mixture of the leading products on the market (soy, pea, fungi). Plant-based protein tends to provide a better texture and nutritional profile to food items than cultured protein, which is one advantage to using the former. However, the plant-based approach comes up lacking in terms of what Kshuk calls “the sensory experience” of the meat: flavor, aroma, etc. Those are elements cultured meat is better able to provide, for now at least.
At the moment, Future Meat is focused on scaling up its production, planning its approach to market, and trying to get a team on the ground in the U.S. It plans to launch in the U.S. by 2022. Initially, that will likely happen through two channels: restaurants and direct-to-consumer sales. The latter could be an especially lucrative format, given the rise in D2C commerce brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recent fundraise will bolster all of these efforts. The $26.75 million funding round is a convertible note with participation from new investors that include German dairy producer Müller Group, ADM Capital, and CPG Rich Products Corp. Existing investors Tyson Foods, Archer Daniels Midland, S2G Ventures, Manta Ray Investors, Emerald Technology Ventures, and Bits x Bites participated, too.
Future meat expects its pilot facility to start production in the first half of 2021 and is also seeking regulatory approval in multiple territories.