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Lab meat has 3 big problems. Is it time for a pivot?

测试管中的肉

在实验室中生长的肉可能会创造一种产品,使素食主义者,食肉和气候变化活动家都可以享受。图片通过Greenbiz/Julia Vann。

Cultivated meat — meat grown in a lab — has got investors, entrepreneurs, meat eaters, plant eaters and climate advocates very excited. It is easy to see why.

Livestock are responsible for14.5 percent根据联合国食品和农业组织的数据,全球温室气体的含量。更重要的是,粮农组织和其他人的研究表明,几乎86 percent土地利用变化(例如森林砍伐)是由于农业的扩张造成的,其中大部分用于种植动物或清理土地进行牧场。

This begs the question: What if we could grow meat in large bioreactors the way we brew beer? After all, the process being used by lab meat companies is similar to the fermentation of yeast but instead works with mammalian cells taken from a small biopsy of the animal and combined with a growth media.

The pitch from lab meat proponents: We could have a juicy, meaty hamburger without the guilt of animal slaughter or the carbon emissions.

因此,投资已经涌入。根据crunchbase, cellular agriculture (another name for lab-grown meat) garnered $1.2 billion from investors, and 2021 was on track for a similar amount.

去年年底,未来的肉饲养$347 millionfrom big food players Tyson and Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM). Just Eats, the Singapore-based company that actually has a cultivated chicken product on the market, raised2.67亿美元in 2021. The company is working to open a大规模栽培的肉plant in Qatar. And in November, Upside, the Berkeley, California-based cultivated meat producer,opened its $50 million EPIC(Engineering, Production and Innovation Center) facility in the East Bay across from San Francisco.

但是,即使有了所有的兴奋和投资,专家(科学家和商人)都知道,要克服巨大的障碍。这些专家在实验室培养的肉方面指出了三个大挑战。那些对培养肉类的未来乐观的人认为,通过投资,技术创新和时间可以克服这些挑战。悲观主义者认为这些不仅是挑战,而且是使很多便宜,无罪的肉成为科幻幻想的问题。

挑战1:成本高昂

耕种的肉类初创公司正在追求替代蛋白质领域的圣杯:传统上牲畜饲养的动物蛋白的价格平价。该行业内的人知道,让消费者大批养成替代肉(无论是耕种还是基于植物)的唯一途径是使产品与传统价格相同。

David Humbird, a chemical engineer who spent two years researching the industry, did a培养肉类行业的技术经济分析。使用成本模型,潜在的技术创新和未来扩展,他可以计算出的实验室培养肉类的最低价格在每磅肉类产品17至23美元之间。在带有标记的杂货店中,很快就会上升到每磅40美元。In December, even with the current high rate of inflation, a pound of ground beef was a$ 5不到$ 5, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

但是,栽培肉的支持者很快指出了价格下跌的地方。最大的是用于细胞培养基 - 细胞生长所需的营养泥浆。Good Food Institute的供应链经理Zak Weston表示,该投入的成本今年“显着”。还有一种基于植物的选择(以前媒体来自胎牛血清,费用约为$ $1升1,684.00if it is United States origin) is on the market. According to anindustry survey byGFI,大多数栽培肉类公司预计到2022年将支付低于每个垃圾的10美元。许多公司正在开发自己的媒体,包括Mosa Meat,报告说80x cost reductionin media for its in-house developed growth media.

“五年前,您必须从牛血清中获得增长因素,这是方程中非常昂贵的一部分,” Rob Harris说。邪教食品科学,一个专注于耕种肉类公司的加拿大投资集团。“今天我可以从我北部三个小时开车到埃德蒙顿,我可以买Future Fields’ growth factor that’s derived from fruit flies. That didn’t exist before. Those people who are saying that it can’t be done, well, you didn’t have that tool at your disposal when you were doing it."

对于一个人来说,上升空间正在使用基于植物的媒体来降低成本。它针对其耕种鸡肉的有机特色鸡的价格,该鸡肉与Dominique Crenn合作生产,Dominique Crenn是三星级米其林厨师,也是旧金山的餐厅Atelier Crenn的所有者。

该行业希望削减成本的另一个地方是无菌措施。根据韦斯顿的说法,与传统的动物屠杀相比,生物制药设施的生产不育含量更高,并且需要生物制药设施。(Biopharma的过程,即从生物来源合成药物的领域,通常将其与培养食品的食物进行比较。)“专门用于药物应用的生物制药是为食品目的而设计的,”他说。

Those people who are saying that it can’t be done, well, you didn’t have that tool at your disposal when you were doing it.

Raising and slaughtering animals is inherently a messy process — fecal matter, blood, bacteria and inedible organs are involved, and processing facilities are beholden to certain sterilization requirements. The industry is banking on those practices being grandfathered into the new cultured meat sector, he said.

“您的缩放能力,食品级与药物级的能力要大得多,因为所需的某些规格不是相同的精度,”麦肯锡,他撰写了对耕种肉类市场的分析。“这使您能够变得更大并移动更快。”

Of course, the fastest way to reduce costs is to scale. Which brings us to challenge No. 2.

挑战2:前所未有的缩放努力

乐观主义者和悲观主义者都知道,要产生真正的重大影响,该行业将必须扩展到历史上任何生物制药,发酵或生物技术业务的先前无与伦比的水平。

“科学概念的基本证明已经完成,” Upside的首席运营官艾米·陈(Amy Chen)说。“现在这是一个缩放练习。我们使用的许多组件不一定是在尺度上存在的,因此我们需要提供数百万英镑或数十亿英镑。”

According to that report on cultivated meat by McKinsey, to build out cultivated meat production to reach 1 percent of the protein market would need between 220 million to 440 million liters of fermentation capacity, or roughly 88 to 176 Olympic-size swimming pools. For perspective, the current biopharma industry has less than 10 swimming pools of capacity.

“我可以理解要达到生产大量肉所需的尺度的担忧,因为我们会谈论10,000升,而且从未做过。”伦敦大学,专注于扩展。“我知道的最高规模是200升。因此,肯定会有挑战。”

但是,汉加(Hanga)和其他从事栽培肉类工作的人认为扩展问题是无法克服的。实际上,他们认为目前存在的规模不足是对生物制药产业的起诉。

“生物制药行业没有真正的激励措施,”瓦伦丁·弗拉加(Valentin Fluga)细胞AG技术,一家创造耕种的白鱼产品的公司。“因为它需要投资,所以它需要更多的时间,并将思想放在一起做更便宜的东西,而不是为不同的治疗做些新东西。”

韦斯顿认为,耕种的肉类部门可以优化价值链中所需的目标(速度和规模)中的每个步骤,而不是在生物制药中优先考虑的目标 - 精度和安全。

上升空间正在检验该假设。它在旧金山湾区的新的53,000平方英尺的史诗厂正在扩大耕种的肉类生产,重点是地面和整个切割的养鸡。该设施具有千升生物反应器,能够每年生产50,000磅的肉类,未来的容量超过40万磅,并将为公司开发下一代技术铺平道路磅。

韦斯顿认为,可以对生物制药技术进行许多调整,以便采取更缩小和经济的培养肉类。他概述了其中的一些,包括找出改善细胞代谢的方法,因此细胞在转化饲料方面更有效,减少所需的营养量;改善细胞密度,因此可以在相同数量的空间中生长更多的细胞;并弄清楚如何使细胞生长更快。

韦斯顿(Weston)称这些创新的水果低点,但诸如加州大学伯克利(UC Berkeley)替代肉类实验室研究总监的Ricardo San Martin等怀疑论者和发酵科学家还有另一个名字:生物学限制,A.K.A.问题3号。

Challenge 3: Biological limitations

This is the question upon which the skeptics and believers really diverge: Is it actually possible to scale cellular agriculture to a point at which production is economical or are there biological and physical limitations that are impossible to innovate beyond?

On the science side, the basic question is, how many cells can you pack in a fermenter without the cells dying in the growth process? And will that be enough cells for growing meat to be cost-effective? According to San Martin, the answer is no.

San Martin’s big issue with the scaling is viscosity. According to him, above a cell certain limit, you can’t even stir the cells in the bioreactors because the density has become so high. The media between them stops acting like water and instead becomes more like a very thick soup. And if you can’t stir the slurry, you can’t keep an even temperature or keep it oxygenated. And then there are the byproducts and waste products that will suffocate the cells anyway. The result is that the cells will die in these large bioreactors instead of producing the scaling cellular agriculture companies are hoping for.

"So no matter how much you try to overcome that barrier, you are bound by the limits of biological cell growth," he said. "It’s just wishful thinking."

The way fermentation works with yeast in alcohol brewing or even in a fungi, such as the mechanism used by companyQuorn, which makes mushroom-based meat products, does not work the same way in mammalian cells. The yeast process is anaerobic, meaning it doesn’t need oxygen. According to Celia Homyak, program manager of the Alternative Meat Lab at UC Berkeley, mammalian cells are more sensitive to high cell density, low nutrient needs and high waste products than fungi and thus die much more easily during the cultivation process.

世界上所有的耐心,资源和大脑都无法创造不可能的技术突破。

虽然耕种肉的专家承认这些局限性,但他们认为克服了这些局限性是技术挑战。

Upsides的Chen说:“在食品发酵和制药界,有很多技术已经确定了很多技术,使我们有信心,这不会成为问题。”“我们没有理由相信他们不会。我们不认为这是一种生物学或物理限制,本身是迈向规模的旅程的一部分。”

当被要求进一步详细介绍哪种技术时,通过电子邮件回应了Epic“也是一个创新中心,它将使我们能够在我们准备更大规模的情况下开发下一代生产技术。大型哺乳动物细胞文化非常好established and has already successfully addressed many of the challenges you have identified. We have designed EPIC’s equipment to allow us to simulate much larger cultivation vessels in terms of pressure, gas exchange, shear stress and other factors to understand how cells are likely to react and what solutions are necessary to ensure robust cell growth." The company did not provide specifics.

天生初创公司必须积极和充满希望and upbeat, sure that the answer is getting smart people with enough resources to work on finding the solutions to tough problems. Katz, who wrote the analysis on the cultivated meat market for McKinsey, told me that he thinks there’s enough motivation and enough smart people working on the problem that they will find a solution. GFI’s Weston said the industry has yet to face a barrier that is "truly insurmountable."

Josh Pollock, Fluga’s cofounder at Cell Ag Tech, is a bit more measured.

"There isn’t an idea that’s a game changer," he said. "It is a lot of little things coming together over time with huge investments of capital. So I think what’s needed rather than a silver bullet is investment in the industry and patience."

But if San Martin is correct that these biological limitations can’t innovate around, the future of cultivated meat is in need of a significant pivot. All the patience, resources and brains in the world can’t create a technological breakthrough that isn’t possible.

枢轴:基于植物的选项的成分?

So cellular agriculture has a scaling problem. And a cost problem. And, depending on who you talk to, an unsolvable biological problem. But what if the solution isn’t to try to create an entire meat replacement industry in a lab but to use the small quantities of the cultured cells to make plant-based meats indistinguishable from the original?

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This is a crossover strategy some lab meat companies have already started to embrace. Impossible Foods, for one, uses a plant-based yeast-fermented血红素给它的牛肉更加肉,并且缺乏更好的单词,血腥的风味。Cell AG Tech使用基于植物的淀粉作为实验室种植的白色鱼类细胞的结构nigiri sushi prototypeso the final product is more like a traditional filet than just a slurry of fish cells.

Using real — albeit cultivated — meat cells in plant-based products could potentially attract non-vegetarians to the alternative protein market, a group that desperately needs to get onboard with moving away from animal meat products if the world is to make an impact on reducing the emissions from livestock. This technique could also dramatically improve the flavor, mouthfeel and overall experience of plant-based products that sometimes have strange aftertastes or textures dissimilar to the meat they are trying to emulate. It could also make the prices of cultivated meat more accessible to the average consumer.

“我想知道,是否曾经以使用10%的[栽培]动物细胞和X%植物细胞形成动物产品的生产物的X%细胞和X%的植物细胞的比率?”加州大学伯克利分校的Homyak说。“经济学会在那里工作吗?”

这些创业公司可以转变成为成分companies instead of a meat company. But the cultivated meat companies I spoke with are still focusing on creating a cultivated meat product that uses 100 percent real cells. They don’t see themselves as ingredient companies. They see themselves as meat producers of the future. Cell Ag Tech is still chasing a full-fledged fish filet using only cell-based materials and sees its nigiri prototype as just a step in the process.

Media coverage of cultivated meat has ping-ponged back and forth between reporting that the era of lab grown meat will soon be upon us (see2018年连线Bloomberg in 2019)和其他受到质疑的人时间线,成本和整体feasibility

当被问及食品作家乔·法斯勒(Joe Fassler)的一篇反柜台文章概述了对耕种肉类的可伸缩性的反对意见时,Cell AG Tech的Pollack告诉我:

“I just really think that the future is going to be extremely unkind to that article. It's questioning the timeline, I think that's absolutely appropriate. But in the end, it's going to happen, and that article is going to look like a relic.”

Hopefully this one will as well.

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