Memphis Meats, one of the older cell-based protein startups, announced today that it has rebranded and is now UPSIDE Foods. Perhaps more important, the company also announced that its first consumer product, cultured chicken, will be available to customers this year… pending regulatory approval.
Founded in 2015, UPSIDE Foods cultivates animal protein without the need to raise animals. The company is working on cell-based versions of different kinds of meat, but said in today’s press announcement that it chose chicken as its first product because of its versatility in recipes and culinary applications, as well as its appeal across geographic regions.
To make its cell-basd meat at scale, UPSIDE has broken ground on a production facility in the San Francisco Bay Area. The full-stack facility will produce, package and ship cultured meat at what the company says is a larger capacity than any other cell-based meat company.
Back in 2019, UPSIDE told The Spoon that the company was holding off on establishing a concrete launch date for their cultivated meat until they could guarantee their product was tasty and scalable, and until regulatory frameworks were established. This last bit was echoed in today’s press release with the “pending regulatory approval” caveat. So far, Singapore is the only country that has approved the sale of cultured meat. There hasn’t been as much clarity here in the U.S., though execs at cultured meat startups are hopeful approvals will be granted in the next two years.
We are definitely entering into a new phase in the evolution of cultured meat. A number of cell-based startups around the world have received funding this year, including CellulaRevolution, CellMeat, Mirai Foods and New Age Meats. In addition to more funding, UPSIDE and other established cultured protein startups like BlueNalu and Avant Meats are opening up their own production facilities to scale up the manufacturing of their meat.
It’s also worth noting that UPSIDE’s chicken announcement comes during the same week that Future Meat said it has dropped the production price of its cell-based chicken by 50 percent. In an interview with Plant Based News, Future Meat CEO, Rom Kshuk said it now costs $4 to produce 110 grams of its chicken, and that price should drop to $2 over the next year and a half. Reaching price parity with conventional animal meat will be a key factor in the success of cultured meat.
Along with a new identity, UPSIDE also announced a new investor today. Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, has invested an undisclosed sum in UPSIDE.
UPSIDE’s new name and look also reflects the company moving into its own next phase as it advances beyond research and into commercial production. If you’re interested in seeing how it all began with the company, I recommend watching the documentary Meat the Future, which chronicles the rise of Memphis Meats from its very early days through much of its growth.