Coming to Your Plate Soon: World's Top Beef Supplier Building Lab-Grown Meat Plant


A veritable herd of producers is stampeding toward the goal of getting lab-grown meat on dinner plates worldwide.

But at least one cattle industry leader is calling bull.

Last week, Bio Tech Foods, a subsidiary of meat-packing giant JBS, announced plans to build a commercial-size cell-cultured meat plant in Spain.

The project “will contribute to the development of the first cultivated meat industrial production plant in Spain, and one of the most state of the art in the world,” according to company CEO Iñigo Charola.

Northern Ag Network said JBS claims the factory will be the world’s largest lab-grown meat plant, capable of producing more than 1,000 metric tons of cultivated beef per year.

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It could potentially be expanded to produce four times that amount.

Cultivated meat is derived from a small sample of cells collected from livestock, which is then fed nutrients, grown in enormous steel vessels called bioreactors, and processed into something that looks and tastes like a real cut of meat,” Reuters reported.

The news agency reported that several other cultivated meat companies are working with the Food and Drug Administration on approval, including California-based GOOD Meat, Netherlands-based Mosa Meat and Israeli company Believer Meats.

And it’s not just fake beef on the horizon. Cultivated chicken breast from a California company called UPSIDE Foods is also in the works, after having been deemed “safe for human consumption” by the FDA in November, Reuters reported.

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“UPSIDE is now hoping to bring its product to restaurants as soon as 2023 and to grocery stores by 2028,” the company told Reuters.

The FDA is “talking to multiple companies” applying for cultivated meat product approvals, though Reuters said the agency would not provide details.

Despite the flurry of regulatory activity, cultivated meat producers still face obstacles in the way of getting their products on store shelves.

Company executives told Reuters the industry needs additional funding to scale up production to make their product affordable.

There’s also the problem of what Reuters called “the ‘ick’ factor.”

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The news outlet quoted a 2022 study that said 35 percent of meat eaters and 55 percent of vegetarians “would be too disgusted to try cultivated meat.”

National Cattlement’s Beef Association President Todd Wilkinson told Northern Ag Network that American ranchers are watching the development of the new industry with a wary eye.

While the lab-grown meat producers loudly tout their process as “sustainable,” Wilkinson pointed to reports that the carbon footprint of the fake meat is up to 25 times that of producing real beef.

“They can say that it’s designed to feed the world, but it’s feeding the world a non-natural product and it’s a product that is going to require more energy to produce, and don’t tell me it’s sustainable,” Wilkinson said.

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.