Higher Steaks, an emerging meat company, said it had managed to make samples of its first products – strips of bacon and pork belly made from cellular material in a laboratory. This could be the starting signal for the commercialization of the cell-based meat business.
With the unveiling, Higher Steaks, a Cambridge-based company based in Cambridge, jumps into a competitive position with a number of much larger companies that have raised far more capital.
"There is still a lot of work to do before it is commercial," said Benjamina Bollag, executive director of Higher Steaks, but the unveiling of a pork belly product that is 50 percent cultured cells and a bacon product that contains 70 percent meat that consists of one Cell material in a laboratory is a milestone for the industry.
The remaining ingredients in Higher Steaks Bacon and Pork Belly are a mixture of plants, proteins, fats and starches to bind the cell material together. To achieve this first step on the path to commercialization, HIgher Steaks used the expertise of an unknown chef to formulate the meat as an approach to pork belly and bacon.
At this point, the pilot should show what higher steaks can do rather than what the company will do, Bollag said.
"In the future it will be a scaffold," said Bollag. "It shows more what our meat can do and what we are working on. In the future it will be with scaffolding."
A number of companies, including Tantti Laboratories, Matrix Meats and Prellis Biologics, manufacture nanoscale scaffolds from biomaterial that can be used as a framework for the growth of structures that match fibrous muscle structures.
The economic viability of products from companies like Higher Steaks, Memphis Meats, Aleph Farms, Meat Bar, Integriculture, Mosa Meat and Supermeat do not just depend on companies like Tantti and Matrix. but also on the ability of Thermo Fisher, Future Fields and Merck to reduce the costs of cell cultures that are necessary for the growth of animal cells.
In total, around 30 cell-based meat startups have been founded worldwide since 2014, all of which are looking for part of the $ 1.4 trillion meat market.
In the meantime, the demand for pork continues to grow, although the supply has been decimated by an outbreak of African swine fever, which could have killed up to 40 percent of the Chinese pig population in 2019.
"Our mission is to deliver meat that is healthy and sustainable without affecting the taste," said Bollag in a statement. "The production of the first cultivated bacon and pork belly is evidence that new techniques can help meet the overwhelming demand for pork products worldwide."
Given the highly capitalized competitors that Higher Steaks faces, the company is looking for industry partners to support the commercialization of its technology.
To improve its competitive position, Higher Steaks recently hired Dr. James Clark, the former chief technology officer of PredictImmune, hired.
"I was always very fascinated by the cultivated meat production, a mixture of science and food production. In 2013, I watched Mark Post's first cultivated £ 250,000 meat burger cooked on the BBC, ”said Clark. “I was approached earlier this year for joining Higher Steaks and was mainly drawn to the science, ambition and energy of Higher Steaks founder, Benjamina Bollag. I think Higher Steaks is a company with technology that is disruptive to meat culture, and I was looking for a challenge in my career. "
Clark was introduced to scale the process of cultivated meat in higher steaks. He has led the development of early stage biotech and pharmaceutical products and listed companies.
"The addition of Dr. James Clark to the team gives Higher Steaks a significant advantage," said Dr. Ruth Helen Faram, Head of Research and Development. "Cultivated pork belly and bacon have never been detected before, and Higher Steaks is the first to develop a prototype that contains over 70% cultured pork muscle without the use of bovine serum."
Consumers shouldn't expect the pork belly from higher steaks to be on the shelves or in restaurants soon, Bollag warned. "We're still in thousands of pounds per kilogram."
The company expects a larger tasting later this year.