“I want to make sure that by 2025 we will have a competitive product in the market [on parity with] biological [meat] and we feel very comfortable being able to make it happen,” said Krijn de Nood, who spoke to FoodNavigator-USA about the ongoing debate over the commercial viability of growing meat from animal cells, on a large scale, outside of an animal, a technology that the founder of Impossible Foods, Dr. Pat Brown, called “vaporware”. ‘

Asked about last year’s article in The Counter​​​ (based on two techno-economic analyzes of cell-grown meat: CE Delft 2021​ and Humbird 2020​) claiming that cell-grown meat faces intractable technical challenges on a food scale“, de Nood said: “It’s always good to read these articles and test your assumptions and see if you’re wrong.

“But if we look at our models, both on the scalability trajectory and on the cost reduction trajectory, we are very confident that by 2025 we can go to market with a competitively priced product. Delft analysis assumed 32 days for the whole process and we can do it – make the cells proliferate then​ [differentiating] turn them into muscle and fat cells…in less than two weeks.

“It also gives us a huge cost advantage from an energy and labor perspective.”

“There is a risk associated with scaling up any process, but we are not talking about a crazy gamble here”

Although it is important to achieve certain cell densities, he said, “What matters is the rate of biomass accumulation. Maybe you can have great cell densities, but if it takes you six weeks to achieve them, it’s not that efficient, so that’s one of the reasons we chose iPScs​ [induced pluripotent stem cells], because they have a faster proliferation rate, they divide faster, so the accumulation of kilograms of meat is faster.

“Obviously there is a risk associated with scaling up any process, but we’re not talking about a crazy gamble here.”

“We have gone from an R&D company to a food company”

Meatable – which works with porcine and bovine induced pluripotent stem cells – closed a $47 million Series A funding round (bringing its total funding to $60 million) last year, and has just hired l former Chr. Hansen Chairman and CEO Cees de Jong as Chairman of the Board; the former president of Fonterra Europe & Africa, Hans Huistra, as COO; and biochemist Jef Pinxteren as vice president of development.

“A lap​ [pilot-scale] production plant in Delft, we have moved from the gram range to the kilogram range, so product development can take a big leap forward, and for regulatory approval you also need to produce consistent batches,“said de Nood.

“We have gone from an R&D company to a food company.”

“Singapore is a very good test market”

For the commercial launch, he said: “Singapore​ [where cell-cultured meat products, from Eat Just, are already on sale, albeit on a tiny scale] will probably be an interesting entry market. After that we hope the United States will open up to us because from a market size point of view it’s a much more attractive proposition than Singapore, although Singapore is a very good test market because it there are people with many different ethnicities and a willingness to embrace new technologies.

Currently, Meatable is considering a “semi-commercial”installation in Singapore, while a larger-scale installation”capable of producing 10 kilotons per year would probably be better placed in a larger market such as the United States or Europe.

In Europe, says de Nood, the positive point is that the regulatory landscape is defined​ [firms must go through the Novel Food Regulation, a pre-market approval process], but it’s long​” whereas in the United States the process is a work in progress [the FDA says it will publish draft guidance on the pre-market consultation process this yea​​r], but seems likely to evolve faster, he said. “Hopefully months, not years.

Meatable’s first commercial product will be pork, de Nood said. “Pork is the most consumed meat in the world, especially in Asia, and there is also an imbalance in supply and demand at the moment due to swine fever. But we have also developed a line of beef, which is super interesting, especially for Europe and the United States… our technology is species independent, so at some point we will do ​​fish too.”

He added: “Right now what we think we need on a commercial scale are bioreactors of around 10,000 liters, but that’s just the beginning, and that’s why it’s so special. that we have a collaboration with DSM, because they have the experience of working with large scale bioreactors. DSM also has a lot of experience with flavor and texture enhancers. ​[that Meatable can tap into].”

Joint development agreement with DSM

Asked about advances in enabling technologies for cell culture meat, de Nood said: “If you just look at all the growth factors, amino acids, minerals needed, which is really encouraging is that not only startups but also big companies are getting into this, so we have an agreement of joint development with DSM, which is really focused on reducing the cost of growth factors ​[produced via microbial fermentation].

“There are several things we can do, so we go from pharmaceutical grade to food grade, we find other microorganisms to produce these growth factors, and there is also the adaptation of cells so that they actually need less. There are plenty of opportunities to really cut costs quite significantly.

Processed Products vs. Whole Cuts

So what kind of products does Meatable work on?

For the first products,said of Nood, “we have both ​[separate] production lines ​[for fat and muscle cells] then we mix them at the end, but we also work on whole cuts, which represent a huge percentage of the​ [conventional meat] market, and we’re one of the few companies that can actually co-culture cells, so that’s exciting.

Asked about the scaffolding, he replied: “We use a variety of different scaffolds, but it’s a bit sensitive to IP.”

Meateffectively reprograms hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) to transform into [induced] pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) or “master cells” which can differentiate into multiple cell types such as muscle and fat, and proliferate indefinitely.

Induced pluripotent stem cells behave like embryonic stem cells, but don’t come from embryos and don’t require the slaughter or harm of an animal, CTO Dan Luining told us when the company went out of mode. stealth in 2018: “The collection method is truly non-invasive. After the calf is born and the umbilical cord is detached, we cannulate one of the veins in the cord and collect the blood in a blood bag. From this blood, we isolate the cells in lab.”​​

After that, the blood cells are effectively ‘reprogrammed’ into a pluripotent state using technology developed by the award-winning lab of Shinya Yamanaka in Kyoto, Japan. 2012 Nobel Prize.

Luining added: “The method works by temporarily restarting the genes that were active during the state when the animal had only a few cells. At that time, the cells were at a stage where they could become anything, which we call pluripotent.Prof Yamanaka found out which genes were active at that time and showed that if you re-initiate those genes the cells behave like pluripotent cells. ​​

“Once started, the pluripotent state becomes stable and the cells self-perpetuate this state. These cells have incredible advantages including: unlimited proliferation, complete growth without serum, growth in suspension and pluripotency, the ability to become any type of cell we want.”

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