Turkish team claims major cultured meat breakthrough – seeks US patent

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A team of Turkish researchers from Ankara University’s Stem Cell Institute claims to have developed a technique to reduce the price of cultured meat. 

Although the price of lab-based meat has dropped from the initial price tag of $330,000 (TL 2.4 million) per KG created by Mosa Meat back in 2013, industry observers believe the key to its success will be to hit prices that are comparable, or lower than farm-bred meat.

“The cost today has fallen to around $2,500 to $3,000 through technological developments it is still difficult to reach consumers at it is,” said  Professor Can Akçalı, the vice-chair of the institute and leader of the project.

The team claims to have cracked one of key issues preventing scaling cultured meat. It says it has worked out a way to reduce the cost of the fetal bovine serum (FBS) used to feed the cells. Currently, a litre of FBS serum costs $400, whereas Professor Can Akçalı said the team’s alternative formula costs $5 to $10.

Fetal bovine serum (FBS) is a vital but controversial part of the cultured meat process. Until recently it has to be taken from animal carcasses thereby rendering them not suitable for vegans. However Mosa Meat, and others now claim to have developed artificial plant based FB serum. There’s no mention as to whether the Turkish team’s FB serum is vegan or not.

Akçalı told Turkish daily Hürriyet that they applied for a patent in the US to safeguard their innovation.

Kerem Erikçi, the CEO of Biftek.co company working on lab-grown meat, said they aim to cheaply produce their formula and sell it to some 80 firms working on artificial meat around the world.

Akçalı noted vegetable-based alternative products with meaty taste, texture and smell currently covers 4.5% of the global market.


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