By Noel Caballero
Bangkok, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- The innovative city-state of Singapore became the world’s country on Wednesday to approve the sale of lab-grown or cultured meat, a step that could revolutionize the food industry.
Small bite-sized chicken made by culturing animal cells and containing breadcrumbs and plant protein will be the first commercially available cultured meat product.
The product has been developed by the American startup Eat Just, which is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2011.
The company told EFE that it was planning a small-scale launch of the product at a restaurant in Singapore “soon” and said it was “working with their chef and team on the menu, accompaniments, and price” with a view to later reaching the mass market.
A company spokesperson told EFE that the price of the cultured meat in Singapore will be similar to that of “premium chicken at a high-end restaurant” and added that they were aiming to reduce prices “in the years ahead” as the cost of production decreased and production capacity increased.
“The analysis also demonstrated that cultured chicken contains a high protein content, diversified amino acid composition, high relative content of healthy monounsaturated fats and is a rich source of minerals” the company, which will market its product under its GOOD Meat brand, said in a statement.
According to Eat Just, no antibiotics are used during the manufacturing process thereby making the cultured meat “cleaner”, “healthier” and “safer” than conventional chicken meat obtained from chicken killed in slaughterhouses.
Companies engaged in research of meat substitutes have gained popularity in recent years amid growing concern about the ecological impact of animal farms and the sustainability of meat production.
“Singapore?has?long been?a?leader in innovation?of all kinds, from information technology to biologics to now leading the world in building a healthier, safer food system. I’m sure that our regulatory approval for cultured meat will be the first of many in Singapore and in countries around the globe,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just, said in the statement.
In 2019, financial services company Barclays valued the meat alternative industry at $14 billion and estimated that the market for meat alternatives could grow ten-fold to $140 billion by 2029.
Eat Just, which plans to set up a production unit in the Asian nation together with a local partner, does not rule out launching more products in the Singaporean market in the near future.
“Working in partnership with the broader agriculture sector and forward-thinking policymakers, companies like ours can help meet the increased demand for animal protein as our population climbs to 9.7 billion by 2050,” Tetrick added.
Global consulting firm AT Kearney noted that, by 2040, 60 percent of the meat consumed by people will be cultured or plant-based meat, according to a report in June 2019 based on several interviews with experts.
In a publication by the non-profit Good Food Institute, which promotes the consumption of alternative proteins, Ding Shijie, associate professor at Nanjing Agricultural University in China, said that Singapore’s regulatory approval will accelerate the financing and development of cultured meat companies across Asia.
The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), which granted approval to the sale of cultured meat on Friday, carried out an extensive analysis of the product to ensure that it was fit for consumption.
“?The company included details on the purity, identity and stability of chicken cells during the manufacturing process, as well as a detailed description of the manufacturing process which demonstrated that harvested cultured chicken met the quality controls of a rigorous food safety monitoring system”, Eat Just explained.
SFA’s Director-General Tan Lee Kim told the Singaporean media that they will continue to monitor the safety of these new alternative protein products once they enter the market.
“We hope Singapore’s thoughtful consultation and review process can inform how other countries create efficient pathways to market for cultured meat products,” the company told EFE, adding that it is “actively engaged” with regulators in the United States and other countries. EFE-EPA