Cultivated meat is having a moment. With the recent USDA approval of products from Upside Foods and Good Meat, the stage is set for lab-grown meat to be sold commercially in the US. But there are still numerous obstacles to commercialization, the biggest being achieving price parity.
Omeat’s novel cultivated meat production process has the opportunity to substantially reduce costs while solving other issues in cultivated meat production, such as the use of fetal bovine serum. We are excited to share our investment in Omeat as the company comes out of stealth mode to make cultivated meat more affordable and humane.
The industrial meat industry, as it stands today, cannot meet global demand without severe environmental impact. Feed crops are grown on one-third of total cropland, and global meat production uses 20-30 percent of the planet’s fresh water supply and accounts for 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic GHG emissions. In the 10 years between 1998 and 2018, global meat consumption increased by 58 percent, and as the global population grows to 9.8 billion by 2050, demand for meat will continue to rise.
Our report Trends Shaping the Future of Food in 2023 stated, “Cultivated protein has the potential to meet the growing demand for animal protein while minimizing the negative externalities of our current animal agriculture system and significantly reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint.” But cultivated meat still faces several hurdles. The first lab-grown burger cost $330,000 in 2013. Costs have come down significantly since then, but for cultivated meat to make a meaningful dent in global meat consumption, it has to be affordable for consumers. Omeat has developed a novel technological solution that, at scale, allows for the production of meat at a price point that will make it a viable option for consumers.
The company has developed a replacement for the use of Fetal Bovine Serum, thereby eliminating the need for animal slaughter while still accessing the efficiency of meat production achieved with the cow’s natural processes. Omeat’s process uses regenerative factors extracted humanely from healthy, live cows to make a growth media that is essentially the same as one that animal cells would normally grow in. Plasma collection is commonly done in humans and animals as a medical procedure. Omeat sources growth media from free-roaming herd cows that graze on its regenerative farm, and the company retains animal welfare staff to ensure the cows are healthy and cared for. According to Omeat, the company’s proprietary process could reduce the number of cows needed to produce meat by 95 percent or more. While the initial focus is on beef, Omeat’s process can be used to grow any kind of meat, including pork, chicken, or fish.
Omeat was founded four years ago by CEO Ali Khademhosseini, a seasoned bioengineering professional with a prolific academic career. Before founding Omeat, Khademhosseini was growing human tissues for medical applications, but as he became more concerned about animal agriculture practices, he shifted his focus to developing a scalable method for producing cultivated meat.
Demand for cultivated meat is expected to grow exponentially in the next few decades. A report on the future of cultivated meats by Edison Group predicts the market will reach about $600 billion by 2040. By this time, cultivated meat would comprise 35 percent of the global meat market. A more conservative estimate from Boston Consulting Group and Blue Horizon Corporation projects the market for cultivated foods, including meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs, will reach approximately $290 billion by 2035.
S2G invested in Omeat’s 40 million Series A in 2022, along with Google Ventures, Bold Capital Partners, Tyson Ventures, Rethink Food, Trailhead Capital, and Cavallo Ventures. The company is currently building a pilot plant and expanding its team to achieve commercial readiness. We look forward to working with Omeat as they continue to make critical advancements in scaling cultivated meat production.