The Rise of the Frankenmeat: How 3 California Based Startups Are Changing How the World Sees Meat

Memphis Meats, Finless Foods, and Hampton Creek are just three creative companies that are looking to make beef, chicken, and fish without killing a single animal. The trend with this eco-friendly first started with Memphis Meats last year when the San Francisco startup made the first engineered meatball using bovine cells. And since the United States ranks number five among the world’s top beef-eating countries, there are more innovations to come from Memphis Meats and some high-powered investors are looking to help.
While successful, their meatball cost a whopping $18,000 a pound to produce. And even though the company has managed to bring down the cost with new technological innovations, they still needed to run a fundraising campaign to earn more capital. Memphis Meat just announced that they were able to bring in $17 million in fundraising, with help from a series of notable investors like Richard Branson and Bill Gates.
By creating real meat grown from animal cells, Memphis Meats is looking to bypass various complications associated with traditional animal agriculture, such as its environmental impact. According to a report by the WorldWatch Institute, a full 51% of global greenhouse-gas emissions are believed to be caused by animal agriculture, which means that this lab-grown meat can potentially help the world’s carbon footprint in a dramatic way.
After such success with their meatball, Memphis Meats is branching out. Recently they announced they were able to develop the world’s first chick and duck meats from self-producing cells. Considering that Americans consume 90 pounds of chicken every year, they have created a way to reduce the use of land and water resources by producing fewer greenhouse gases. For example, while they have not released the specifications of their specific technique yet, they have mentioned that their meat and chicken engineering process produces 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than previously.
Hampton Creek is also in the market of creating lab produced chicken. Interestingly, they have created a process to develop the meat for chicken fingers from the cells of a feather of a single bird. Their chicken flesh was cultivated from using cells from several birds, then mixed with plant-based fillers.
But, despite an interest in the American market, Hampton Creek will focus their efforts on the Middle East, where it is harder to raise cattle and poultry.
Finless Foods, also from San Francisco, has a goal of mass-producing marine life products. The small startup is run by two men in their mid-20s, and they have the goal of not only protecting the oceans but providing healthy food to the world.
But, the owners are very specific in that they don’t like the term Frankenmeat, which has been used in the entire meat manufacturing industry since the invention of Memphis Meat’s meatball. In fact, one of the founders Brian Wyrwas relates the meat-growing industry to be similar to the craft beer industry. And since the craft beer market is growing rapidly and is currently worth $19.6 billion, Wyrwas sees a lot of potential in this interestingly-formulated fish.
Wyrwas explains to The Guardian that the ancient tradition of making beer will be done in giant, sterile, and sealed fermenters, which are similar to where the fish would be produced. He is adamant in that the meat is not produced in some dark room like Frankenstein, and will be completely safe and sterilized from the start of the process to the finish. He says that beer:
“Is often prototyped in a facility that looks like a laboratory: it’s white, everyone’s wearing lab coats and gloves, and is using lab equipment. So if we’re lab-grown meat, then beer is lab-grown beer. We’re not going to have armies of scientists sitting over petri dishes forever.”
Wyras continues to explain that Finless Foods will only obtain fish cells for their meat from fish in a nearby aquarium that have already died. They have an agreement with the aquarium to alert them whenever a fish dies, and they will obtain a fresh culture right away. This way no fish are harmed for someone else’s science experiment.
So when can we expect to see all this lab-created meat hitting the shelves? Finless Foods aims to have a blue-fin tuna product available for consumption by 2019, Hampton Creek by 2021, and Memphis Meats is still up in the air.

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