IN FOCUS: No roaming cattle but with high-tech labs, could Singapore be a 'meat' exporter?
By Rachel Phua, CNA
13 Feb 2021
SINGAPORE: As a tiny city-state with a population density that ranks third in the world, Singapore isn't particularly suited for conventional agriculture and free-roaming livestock.
But Gaia Foods needs no farm to feed a world hungry for some sinewy grub. All it needs is a laboratory, faith from investors and a couple more technological breakthroughs.
The lab-grown meat developer was founded by Mr Vinayaka Srinivas and Mr Thanh Hung Nguyen, researchers who met at Duke-NUS Medical School in December 2019.
The pair is trying to create structured beef and pork products - think beef steaks and pork chops - by growing animal cells on scaffolds, or thin plant-based surfaces, so that it mimics the texture of meat cuts as opposed to minced meat.
揥e think we can produce meat in a cleaner, green and animal-friendly manner that people can consume without all the guilt,?said Mr Srinivas, highlighting the benefits his industry peers have touted since the first lab-grown hamburger was unveiled in 2013.
Mr Srinivas said they want to launch their first product in three-and-a-half years at S$15 to S$20 a kilogramme - which is close to prices of traditional meat today - at restaurants. The plan is to go mass market in five years.
Right now, the cost of production is at an exorbitant S$6,000 per kilogramme, largely owing to the expensive animal serum and pharma-grade nutrients used to grow and feed the animal cells respectively.
But Mr Srinivas and his partner are confident they can bring the price down. Experiments are ongoing to develop a similar serum from plants and yeast, as well as cell feed from nutrients extracted from plants.
SUPPORTIVE ECOSYSTEM ...?
... Singapore Polytechnic抯 Food Innovation & Resource Centre has run 10 plant-based protein projects so far, said its acting director David Chai. Half of them sprung up in the past 12 months...
ARE WE TOO LATE TO THE GAME?
... Cargill and Tyson Foods both participated in Memphis Meats?US$161 million fundraising round last January. It was Cargill抯 second investment with the company; it has also put in at least US$100 million with pea-protein producer Puris...?
SHOW ME THE MONEY
WILL CONSUMERS BITE?
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