Lab-grown meat, also known as cultivated meat, is a new and exciting solution for reducing the carbon footprint of the food industry. With over a third of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity directly related to the food supply chain, according to the United Nations, lab-grown meat could play a significant role in reducing the impact of our diets on the environment.
But, the process of growing animal cells without the whole animal is expensive and the carbon reduction benefits will only become a reality if the industry makes certain choices about production and if it can reach a scale that lets it make products at a cost that’s on par with traditional meat.
The industry for lab-grown meat is still relatively new, with the first companies forming in 2015. Currently, there are around 150 companies around the world that are focused on developing either lab-grown meat products for consumers or technologies that support the industry. The industry has raised around $2.6 billion across all companies since its inception.
However, the companies are currently at the pilot scale of production, which means they’re developing the foundational technology and processes that will allow them to scale up to larger production sizes and reach a broader set of consumers. Despite the industry still being in its infancy, there is significant potential for lab-grown meat to have a positive impact on the environment.
Life cycle assessments are used to assess the environmental impact of any product or technology, and this includes lab-grown meat.
These assessments have shown that the land use for lab-grown meat will significantly decrease compared to conventional forms of animal meat production, with decreases ranging from 60 to 95%. Similarly, carbon emissions could decrease anywhere from 17 to 90%, but it is important to note that these reductions will only occur if the lab-grown meat is produced with renewable energy technology.
The energy use for lab-grown meat technology is higher than traditional meat production, but it can be supplied with renewable forms of energy, reducing the carbon footprint overall.
The timeline for lab-grown meat development coincides with the growth of renewable energy technologies, which means that the energy systems for lab-grown meat production will become cleaner as time moves forward.
When compared to other meat alternatives, such as plant-based products from companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, lab-grown meat has been shown to have a lower carbon footprint.
Plant-based products have a lower carbon footprint than traditional animal meat, but lab-grown meat has the potential to have an even lower carbon footprint if produced with renewable energy technology.
The challenge for lab-grown meat is to get out of the lab and onto our dinner plates. Currently, the technology is expensive, and the cost of production is significantly higher than traditional meat production.
However, the industry is rapidly growing and as the technology and processes are refined, the cost of production should decrease, making lab-grown meat a more accessible and affordable option for consumers.
Lab-grown meat is a promising solution for reducing the carbon footprint of the food industry. The industry is still in its infancy, but the potential for lab-grown meat to have a positive impact on the environment is significant.
Lab-grown meat has the potential to have a lower carbon footprint than traditional animal meat and other meat alternatives, but it will depend on the choices made about production and the use of renewable energy technology. The challenge for the industry will be to bring the cost of production down and make lab-grown meat a more accessible option for consumers.