Future Meat Technologies (FMT), a company producing slaughter-free clean meat, recently spoke to Food Navigator about the evolving food system.
Earlier this year, FMT received a hefty $2.2 million investment from Tyson Foods, a leading meat producer in the US. Tyson previously invested in Memphis Meats, that also produces clean meat, as well as the plant-based meat company, Beyond Meat.
FMT’s founder and biomedical engineer, Professor Yaakov Nahmias, commented, “I think Tyson realizes that traditional animal agriculture has really reached capacity, and if we want to continue to feed more people and grow new markets we need to start investing now in emerging technologies.”
The Israeli-based start-up produces clean meat, a product formed from animal cells to replicate the look, feel, and taste of meat in a lab, but without the slaughter of animals. FMT is working on cruelty-free beef and chicken.
The financial leg-up from Tyson Foods will allow FMT to reduce the prices of its products. Nahmias told Food Navigator, “We can get the price down probably in about 6-8 months to about $8/kilo, which is a huge step forward, as we are at around $800/kilo now.” In terms of the amount of food being produced, FMT intends to “go from several kilos per week to several tons per week over the next year.”
Nahmias believes FMT is attractive to investors as his business model replicates current systems in place yet offers more efficient results.
Food Navigator highlighted that Tyson supplies chickens, feed, and instructions to independent farmers who raise the birds to then sell the meat back to Tyson. “So in the same way, we would go to a farmer that might currently be raising 50,000 chickens in a barn and say you can produce this much chicken using our technology,” Nahmias said.
FMT intends to initially launch its products at high-end restaurants to gauge consumer interest on a small scale. Nahmias said, “This is one of the reasons we are thinking about launching our product first at the Machneyuda restaurant, one of the top restaurants in Israel. One of the chefs there is working closely with us to launch their first cultured dish before the end of this year, so that’s very exciting.”
Though these slaughter-free products rival Tyson’s market, the company appears to be viewing it as a business opportunity rather than a competitor. “Tyson has been showing growing interest in emerging technologies, especially those that will enable it to both extend its market in areas without water and land resourced to raise animals for meat,” Nahmias said. “But it’s also looking at different [plant-based] alternatives that will enable them to supply healthier foods to consumers with a lower environmental impact.”
Nahmias named the collaboration a “growing relationship.” He said, “we are learning a lot from them. For example, we need to learn from Tyson how we take the raw material we are producing – cellular biomass – and how to integrate it into standard supply chains for chicken nuggets, sausages, hot dogs and so on.”
“And Tyson needs to understand how this technology and this new raw material will change its supply change, and how to integrate it into their products.”
The executive vice president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer at Tyson Foods, Justin Whitmore, previously said, “We don’t want to be disrupted.”
“We want to be part of the disruption.”