Moneycontrol
Aug 28, 2017 06:55 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Why billionaires like Bill Gates and Richard Branson have invested in a company that "makes" meat

Memphis Foods claims to make ‘clean meat’ and could hold the solution to the world’s food crisis


Moneycontrol News 

Two-year-old Silicon Valley startup Memphis Meats already has the likes of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Virgin CEO Richard Branson, General Electric CEO Jack Welch and Elon Musk’s brother Kimbal on its side.

Why?

Memphis Meats has come up with a new revolutionary technology that develops meat artificially. Seeing this a lot of investors have poured in funds.

In what could further be interpreted as a stamp of approval from the existing food processing industry, Cargill Inc - one of the world’s largest agricultural corporations, has also decided to invest in the company.

The fact that it has already raised a whopping USD 22 million funding in its first round could be a testimony to the potentiality of what is cooking.

The environmental issues looming the food industry, especially the culture of slaughterhouses and livestock, has long made the food industry cry out in need for a disruption for a long time and this company is being seen as an answer.

Consumers are demanding more and more sources of protein that’s less reliant on food, land grazing and water compared to livestock.

How do they "make meat"? 

Memphis Meats harvests meat cells from live animals and grows those in a lab for four to six weeks. Then, the meat can be cooked and eaten. The start-up produced a meatball out of beef in February in 2016. A chicken and a duck in March 2017.

Duck+l'orange

Duck L'orange made from the processed duck meat in the labs (Courtesy: Memphis Meats)

Under their technique, there are no slaughterhouses, and to score more brownie points, clean meat also takes up less water, land and energy to produce.

They presently manufacture beef, chicken and duck meat directly from grown animal cells, thus completely bypassing the need for slaughter, raising poultry and cattle. 

The move may hold the key to a trillion dollar industry and could be the next big disrupt that can do away with the culture of slaughterhouses.

Memphis Meats has said that it needs about 1 percent of the land and 10 percent of the water needed for conventional agriculture.

The move is a long-awaited response to call for an increasing demand for meat that is organic, and more sustainable than current systems, as well as animal-friendly.

“The world loves to eat meat, and it is core to many of our cultures and traditions,” co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats Uma Valeti says. 

meatball

Beef meatball made in the Memphis Meats lab being fried in a pan of oil (Courtesy: Memphis Meats)

The company grows the meat in tanks by feeding oxygen, sugar and other nutrients to living animal cells.

While companies like Memphis Meats are making meat by feeding live animal cells, others have tried to replicate the taste of meat with plants, and some of these include Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

As per a Forbes report, one of the main challenges ahead of the company is managing the cost of production - something towards which fresh funds are to be redirected.

“The way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health. These are the problems that everyone wants to solve,” CEO Uma Valeti further added.

While animals are not being slaughtered, it does not make a difference to the nature of the product, and Memphis Meats has clearly said that the meat it is selling is “not vegetarian”.

The company is still in the research phase and hence none of its products have hit the market yet, but the investors have got the first taste of it.

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