Memphis Meats Secures Large Investments

Many people worldwide enjoy eating meat. I am one of those people. However, I do recognize that growing meat can be an environmentally disastrous and, at times, morally dubious thing to do. This is why I was excited when I read that a company called Memphis Meats has some new and powerful backers. The project aims to grow edible meat in labs instead of relying on the raising and slaughtering of animals for our meat products.

Bringing Home the (Lab-Grown) Bacon

Recently Memphis Meats announced that it had some new and exciting backers. DFJ, a venture capital firm that is known for having backed SpaceX, Skype, and Tesla, courted big-name investors to help raise US$17 million for Memphis Meats. Among these investors were Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Other investors included Cargill, New Crop Capital, and Inevitable Ventures.

Collectively, the company has netted US$22 million in investment to date. This capital will be used to scale up Memphis Meats’s production capabilities and further product research. The company ultimately aims to make its meat cheaper than traditionally-sourced meat.

Is All This Really Necessary?

The first time I heard about this project, I wondered if it really needed to exist. However, after doing some research I tend to agree with the project’s view that this is both necessary and inevitable. Clearly, people with far more business acumen than I agree with them. Global demand for meat is on the rise and unlikely to slow down. In the United States and other western nations, we tend to forget that other countries do not share our access to opulence, though they are getting there. Lab-grown meat probably is the most efficient way to address that market demand. After all, the meat industry is nearly a trillion dollar market.

Once the research and development connected to producing meat efficiently and on a large scale is completed, businesses like Memphis Meats may quickly expand beyond the traditional meat market. While I have no doubt that traditional meat production will stick around, it may be in the form of a more expensive and artisanal experience. I say this because growing an animal and slaughtering it requires an incredible amount of resources. Water, feed, medicine, humane slaughter equipment, removal of waste products, and more all drive up the price of meat. Growing meat in a lab only requires sufficient resources for those fast-growing cells, rather than also maintaining discarded and uneaten parts of an animal for years. This would also positively impact the environment by requiring less resources and cutting down on waste materials.

While the chances of most people eating meat that does not come from an animal anytime soon are slim, the recent influx of cash to this project means we will likely get there sooner than was expected. Personally, I cannot wait.

  • concerndcitizen

    Yuk. Pink slime burger. Better to be Vegan than eat this.

  • Mike Pitman

    “Steak on trees” was a vision I always loved to prompt vegetarians with in a party atmosphere since the 90s. After qualifying their opposition to the animal meat industry, I would ask, “If they could come up with a genome that grew steak on either trees or vines, would you eat it? No actual living mammal in the process: just a plant host, technology, and animal DNA, water, sunlight, plant food. Would that be enough to include in your diet?” Most were aghast, certainly in the 90s. The internal struggle with the concept of GMO based meat replacing the very animal farming industry they opposed was apparent from the introversion that followed.
    Over the years, it seems people have warmed to the idea considerably. Anecdotally, reactions are more muted, and overall it seems more a question of taste (no pun intended, although I suppose it might work here).
    We’ve seen a large increase in plant protein fake meats have success in the market. I would hope the barriers to growth in the vegi-meat market could in part be addressed if the lab meat taste and texture is sufficiently real.
    Personally, I think it would be great if we could see success with lab grown meat. Their would be enormous benefit for the future. And, for example, how else would you get a steak on Mars?