Cultivated meat is animal meat produced by cultivating animal cells and is a type of cellular agriculture. Historically, cultivated meat has been prohibitively expensive to produce, However, in recent years, technological advancements have rapidly brought down the costs of producing cultivated meats such that several companies are now in the process of building commercial production facilities to mass produce cultivated meats.
As of November 2021, there are approximately 110 companies producing cultivated meat products, including both final products, and those ingredients and inputs needed to produce the final product according to The Good Food Institute Company Database.
In this article, we will create a historical timeline of cultivated meat products and production costs starting in 2013 with the world’s first cultivated meat hamburger up until the present as of August 2021, and then have a look at future cost reductions which are expected to occur by 2030.
Past Production Costs
In August 2013, Dr Mark Post from the Netherlands created the world’s first hamburger made from the stem cells of a cow for $325,000 USD at a taste testing and cooking demonstration in London, United Kingdom.
A few years after this in February 2016, Upside Foods (formerly Memphis Meats) based in the United States produced cultivated beef for $40,000 USD per kg and was the first company to create a meatball using cow cells. In addition, Upside Foods also produced cultured poultry for $20,000 USD per kg.
In September 2017, cultivated fish start-up Finless Foods produced the world’s first cell-cultured seafood at a private tasting event, which where produced at a cost of $19,000 per pound of fish.
By December 2017, Finless Foods had decreased its production costs by $50%. Within a few months they managed to reduce their cost significantly and are continuing to reduce the cost in a fast pace manner.
As of June 2017, Upside Foods reduced their production costs down to just $5,280 USD per kg. Then Shiok Meats, a cultivated seafood company located in Singapore. In March 2019, Shiok Meats made the world’s first cultivated shrimp dumplings, making 8 dumplings in total for a cost of $5,000.
In November 2020, Israeli food-tech startup SuperMeat has opened a test kitchen in Tel Aviv to premier its cultured chicken burgers. The Chicken offers diners the opportunity to eat meat grown directly from chicken cells, in what SuperMeat claims to be the world’s first consumer experience of its kind.
In December 2020, alternative protein company Eat Just based in the United States became the world’s first company to get regulatory approval for cultivated meat In Singapore. A few weeks after this milestone, Eat Just became the world’s first company to commercially sell cultivated meat in a Singaporean restaurant called 1880.
Present Production Costs
As of August 2021, several significant milestones have been made in 2021 towards getting cultivated meat production costs closer to that of conventional meat products.
In February 2021, Future Meat Technologies, a cultivated meat company based in Israel, greatly decreased its manufacturing costs for producing cultivated chicken breast, which is a hybrid product blending plant proteins with cultivated meat, to just $7.50 USD per quarter pound serving, which is $66 per kg.
Future Meat Technologies has also opened its first industrial cultured meat facility, the first of its kind in the world, which is capable of producing 500 kg of cultivated meat per day.
In April 2021, Eat Just achieved another historic milestone by becoming the first company in the world to sell cultivated meat to consumers via home delivery beginning on April 22nd 2021. The 3 cultivated meat dishes offered for sale cost $15 USD each.
The most recent significant cultivated meat cost reduction announcement as of August 2021 came from Shiok Meats in July 2021, which announced that they were planning to lower production costs for its cultivated prawn from $1,500 USD per kg to $50 per kg by 2022, and is further aiming to reduce production costs to $5 USD per kg in future years. To achieve this, Shiok Meats is aiming to build a cultivated meat production facility using some of its most recent funding (undisclosed amount) it received in July 2021.
Future Production Costs
In their Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) recently published in 2021, the research and consulting organization CE Delft collected data from 16 Cultivated Meat companies to make comprehensive estimates on current and future costs of producing cultivated meat by 2030. It found that current cultivated meat costs anywhere from $116 – $22,423 per kg to be produced, with costs varying based on the company and type of cultivated meat being produced. The future scenarios of cultivated meat put the cost anywhere between $5.66 – $17 USD per kg by 2030.
Hence, cultivated meat production costs have seen remarkable reductions in the past decade since that first cell based beef burger made in 2013 for $325,000 USD and are expected to decrease substantially more in the future to as low as $5.66 USD per kg by 2030, as the industry continues its rapid growth and gains more companies, investment, scientists and other key experts in the field, all of which will be necessary to further develop the cultivated meat industry and contribute to future cost reductions, such that by 2030, cultivated meat products will likely be possible to purchase at a price close to if not equal to most conventional meat products.