This morning The Wall Street Journal reported that Mosa Meat, the Netherlands-based clean meat company making slaughter-free beef from cattle cells, raised $8.8 million (€7.5 million) in funding from German drugmaker Merck KGaA and leading Swiss meat manufacturer Bell Food Group.
Mosa Meat was founded by Dr. Mark Post (now their Chief Scientific Officer), a professor of physiology at Maastricht University who made history when he created the world’s first lab-grown burger. The burger, which was cooked and eaten live on air in London in 2013, cost $330,000 (€250,000) to make and was funded by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. While it received mixed reviews from its tasters, the project prompted Post to create Mosa Meats in 2015.
Merck and Bell Food Group join the ever-growing list of Big Food and biotech companies investing in cultured meat companies. Tyson Foods has funded both Future Meat and Memphis Meats, which also counts Cargill amongst its investors, and poultry producer PHW Group has backed Israeli clean meat company Supermeat.
This investment is strategic for Mosa as well, beyond the obvious money part. Merck, one of Mosa Meats’ investors, has expertise in producing cell media, one of the biggest costs behind cultured meat. Combine that with the other investor, meat manufacturer Bell Food Group, and the Dutch startup has both the upstream and downstream of clean meat production covered.
Mosa Meats is aiming to get the first lab-grown meat product to market by 2021 at a price point of $10 per patty. This is on par with the timeline from other leaders in the field, namely Memphis Meats. JUST Foods, formerly Hampton Creek, claims it will make the first clean meat sale by the end of this year — though some are skeptical. Cultured fish production is on a slightly faster timeline; Finless Foods estimates they’ll be able to produce clean bluefin tuna at cost with the “real stuff” by 2019.
Mosa’s news comes less than a week after the FDA held a public meeting on cultured meat. We spoke with Annie Cull, Director of Communications at the Good Food Institute, who said that the FDA was very open and receptive to the idea of bringing clean meat to market. “They set a strong tone, which was ‘we’re ready for this,'” she said.
In short, clean meat is coming — and pretty darn soon. But we have a ways to go in terms of regulation, terminology, and public perception before it gets here.