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Make your own steak, and I mean “make it”!

A fried chicken … without the chicken. The chicken meat was produced by multiplying cells, no animal needed. Credit: Memphis Meats

The progress made in farming and livestock in the last 100 years have been phenomenal. It is thanks to this increased yield that Earth is able to feed over 7 billion people, rather than the 2 billions that were living in 1900.

Yet, further increasing livestock is problematic to say the least. To feed livestock you need forage or grain and plenty of them (2kg of grain for 1 kg of poultry, upt to 7kg of grain for 1 kg of beef) and that requires arable land. Furthermore today  livestock are credited to produce over 14% of CO2 emission.

Here comes Memphis Meats. They are perfecting a technology that allows to grow steaks (chicken, beef, pork…) from cells through an industrial process.  The technology already exists and they have already manufactured steaks, burgers, meatballs, even duck breast.  And people have already eaten them (watch the clip) finding the taste equal to the one they are used to, including the texture (which is an important aspect of taste).

Why do they need to perfect it, since they can already produce good steaks? It is not about taste, it is about cost.  When they started, in 2016 producing one kg of poultry, fit for a fried chicken, cost 18,000$. In September 2017 they managed to produce one kg at a cost of 7,200$. Still exorbitant but 50% less than a year ago. They are targeting a cost of 2$ per kg early in the next decade.

That will be a game changer!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.