Dutch cultured protein company Mosa Meat said over the weekend it has reduced the cost of its fat media by 66 times thanks to the work of a group the company refers to as its Fat Team. Without listing actual price numbers, Mosa Meat said its fat medium now costs 1.52 percent of what it did less than two years ago, in September of 2019.
In the cultivated meat-making process, the nutrient-rich growth medium fed to cells triggers those cells to grow into muscle, fat, and tissue, all of which are put together to create a final end product. A company might grow fat cells for use in its own meat analogues, or it could sell the fat as an ingredient to other businesses. Fat is also a crucial component in achieving a “meatier” taste, texture, and mouthfeel when it comes to cultured protein.
Mosa Meat, of course, is well known as the company that created the world’s first cultivated hamburger back in 2013 — for a cool $325,000. A huge part of this cost was (and still is for many) the growth medium, which at the time was made using fetal bovine serum (FBS). FBS is as expensive as it is controversial. As the Good Food Institute puts it, “The use of animal-derived components in cultivated meat production has prohibitive economic, food safety, and ethical constraints.”
In July of last year, Mosa Meat said it had achieved a more than 80x cost reduction for its growth media, a milestone largely driven by the company’s ability to develop FBS-free media. The company now uses an “animal component free” media that is part of the reason the Fat Team was able to announce its own cost reductions recently.
“We’ve definitely checked yet another box on our journey towards a product that meets the expectations of critical meat lovers,” company cofounder Peter Verstrate said in this weekend’s announcement.
Mosa Meat’s announcement comes not long after MeaTech 3D, an Israeli company, said it would produce cultivated fat at a new pilot production facility. Additionally, last month Mission Barns raised $24 million to build up a production facility in San Francisco for its cultivated fat business. Meanwhile, multiple companies, from Avant Meats to Future Meat, have announced price slashes in production costs over the last several months.
Lowering costs, whether of fat, medium, or other components, will help the entire cultured meat industry get products closer to price parity with their traditional counterparts. Price parity is only of many other milestones that have to be achieved in order to make cultivated meat a commercial reality. However, it is seen by many as an extremely crucial step in the process.
Mosa Meat doesn’t yet have a timeframe for when it might have burgers in front of customers, or how much they’ll cost once that happens. At last check, the company was working with European regulators to get approval for its products.