Cultured chicken nuggets from JUST, Inc.

Today five cellular agriculture and aquaculture companies announced that they have formed a new coalition to educate and advocate for cultured meat — that is, meat or seafood grown outside the animal.

Called the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation (AMPS Innovation), the group consists of cellular aquaculture companies BlueNalu and Finless Foods and cell-based meat companies Fork & Goode, JUST, and Memphis Meats.

The goal of the coalition is to twofold. They want to provide resources to educate consumers on what exactly cell-based meat is and its health and environmental footprint. But to get to that, they’ll first have to tackle their other goal: to get cell-based meat and fish approved by regulators.

According to a press release sent to the Spoon:

In the coming months, AMPS Innovation intends to engage policymakers and stakeholders to educate them on their products in addition to working with Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration as they continue to build out a regulatory framework for meat, poultry and seafood that is grown directly from animal cells, rather than harvested from the animals themselves.

Basically, AMPS Innovation will act as a mouthpiece and knowledge expert for the larger cellular agriculture industry, pushing for regulatory acceptance needed to bring cultured meat to market.

As of now, the regulatory pathway for cell-based animal products is still pretty nebulous. Last year the FDA and USDA agreed that they would jointly regulate cultured meat; the FDA will oversee animal cell collection and initial cell growth, while the USDA will be in charge of large-scale production labeling. It’s still unclear at exactly what point in the process that handoff will take place, and there’s no timeline about when the governmental bodies will actually approve cultured meat for sale.

Cell-based meat will make it to market; with the amount of interest around and capital invested in cell ag companies, that seems inevitable. At that point AMPS Innovation will likely pivot to focus more on educating consumers who are wary of eating meat grown in a lab — and pushing back against big meat and farming coalitions that don’t want them edging in on their sales.

AMPS Innovation is already building its case. In addition to resources such as high-res media images and descriptions about the cell-based meat production process, their website also has a page called “Terms that are accurate” (kind of an aggressive way to label a glossary, IMHO). The page states that terms like “Meat / poultry / seafood” or “meat / poultry / seafood products” are applicable to cell-based meat, poultry, and seafood, since they are made from animals and real animal flesh.

Big Meat is not going to like that. Farming groups and large meat corporations are already aggressively pushing for labeling restrictions for both plant-based and cell-based meat, even though the latter has yet to make it to market. AMPS Innovation clearly understands to gain regulatory approval, they’ll have to fight not only skeptical regulatory bodies, but also traditional animal agriculture companies with boatloads of money and governmental support.

The timing is right for AMPS Innovation. As the list of companies making cell-based meat and seafood grows, their messaging is becoming more fragmented. They need a unified voice with which to answer questions and advocate for their cause — both now as they start gearing up to advocate for regulatory acceptance, and later as they try to win over consumers.

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