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CoBank: Lab meat isn’t a threat

Written by Heather Loraas

In November 2017, CoBank Knowledge Exchange released a new report, titled “Lab-grown Cultured Meat – A Long Road to Market Acceptance.”

Trevor Amen, animal protein economist and report author, said, “Technological advancements in food manufacturing are allowing researchers to explore alternative protein products.”

Alternative proteins include products from plant sources, insects and lab-grown cultured meats.

“The growth products and future success for this category lies squarely with growing protein demand globally, as opposed to taking market share from traditional livestock and poultry production,” Amen continued.

He further noted, while growth in the sector is likely in the next decade, current sales of meat substitutes are around $740 million annually in the U.S., with growth projected to hit $863 million by 2021.

“However, these figures are dwarfed by the $49 billion market for total fresh meat and poultry sales in the U.S.,” Amen said.

Further, he added the closest substitute to traditional animal protein is lab-grown cultured meat, but commercial viability is three to five years from today, with a timeline dependent on the ability to align cost and quality with current offerings. Additional, consumer acceptance of scientifically engineered products will also be a factor in the viability and success of alternative protein markets, and there are also technological and regulatory hurdles.

“Regardless of the specific technology that prevails in developing cultured meat, it is unlikely to have a marked effect on traditional animal protein demand at least through the next decade,” Amen concluded.

Visit cobank.com/Knowledge-Exchange/Centers-of-Excellence/Animal-Protein.aspx to view the full report.