“We can produce products even a cow cannot produce” – Steakholder Foods CEO Arik Kaufman talks cultured meat, the technological challenges that have been overcome and the obstacles that still need addressing.
Steakholder Foods is used to setting the pace – it was the first, and still is the only, cultured meat company to have listed on NASDAQ. It is one of the few companies that is not focused on one species, “…we are currently developing and tackling bovine, avian, porcine and fish...so our portfolio is more diverse.” And Kaufman goes on to say, “As far as we know, no one has the printing capabilities ready for industrial scale as we have.”
But there is a bigger prize still up for grabs – being the first to get 100%-cultured meat products on to the plates of consumers. Before that can be achieved, Kaufman says, obstacles need to be overcome across three fronts: technology, cost and regulation.
Regarding technology, much progress has been made. Kaufman provides a run through of how cultured meat is produced. Firstly, stem cells are collected and differentiated into muscle and fat. The cells are then proliferated to create biomass. This can then be either added to plant-based products to create a hybrid product or loaded into a 3D printer. The resulting printed product is placed in an incubator and as Kaufman says, “After a few weeks you have 100%-cultured meat products that you can eat.”
Steakholder Foods is doing just this. As Kaufman explains, the Company already has “a product that emphasises…our technological capabilities, the Omakase Beef Morsels which is a 100%-cultured meat product with very nice muscle alignment”. Thanks to milestones such as Omakase, Kaufman is sounding confident: “I think at the technological stage there are still barriers, but we see ourselves progressing all the time so I don’t see any challenge here that won’t be met.”
On costs, Kaufman is similarly optimistic: “…creating a 100%-cultured meat product is not cost effective yet…but we see costs reducing all the time.” Furthermore, “we can overcome this challenge through collaboration.”
Improving technologies and costs are all well and good but they are meaningless without movement on the regulatory front. “The fundamental challenge is there are no regulations…so we’ve started a company knowing that we are about to develop a product that is not allowed to be sold yet but we saw the landscape…and we felt it was only a question of time.”
And perhaps also Steakholder Foods’ secret sauce will have a key role to play: “We have the best people here. No, isn’t an answer…We are problem-solvers.”
To learn more, have a listen to the full interview here: