A company from Tokyo, Japan, has started to build a foie gras factory, ready in 2019 and go to market with a manufactured meat product in 2020.
According to their press release, Integriculture are concentrating on liver cells and the culture-medium required for this. The innovative company consider that the price of the medium today is prohibitive for manufacturing meat and needs to come down. They have just closed a first round seed-capital of 2.4M€ to accomplish this goal.
To make it all happen, Yuki Hanyu, the CEO, is envisaging a system of circulating, inexpensive substitute growth medium. It should reduce the cost of manufactured meat to parity with farmed meat by 2025.
The company is building a pilot plant, which it hopes to be able to demonstrate in 2018. The first commercial plant is planned around the end of 2019, at which time Mr. Hanyu still expects manufactured liver to be more expensive than farmed foie gras.
Another start-up (in the Netherlands, see culturedBlood) is also raising capital at the moment with the same goal of reducing the cost of growth-medium.
Foie gras is a pâté made from the liver of geese and is fairly smooth in structure.
In-vitro liver cell growth was already demonstrated by Shojinmeat. in 2017. This was a somewhat informal group of scientists, based in Tokyo. This group stood at the basis of what is now formalized into Integriculture.
They claimed at the time the liver would cost about 10,000yen /100gr to produce. That is in Euro, about €800 per kg. In comparison, high quality farmed foie gras today is obtainable for a consumer price of about €300 per kg. So, the price of manufactured liver is high, but closing in.
Foie gras is one of the most expensive meats available for consumption today. It’s structure is easier than, say, a T-Bone stake. A T-Bone steak consists of muscle tissue, but has many other different components like fat, veins, ligaments and, off-course, the characteristic T-bone. This far more complicated meat is on the market for less than €15 per kg.
Foie gras contains liver cells and fat, mainly, and has a structure similar to minced meat. The farming of foie gras is cruel to the geese: gavage is a feeding method where the animals get stuffed with food mechanically so the liver of the animal swells up. This method of farming is nowadays prohibited in many countries.
As the name suggest, foie gras is also very fatty. Fat content is highly controllable in manufactured meat, a low-fat manufactured option could be made available in future.
Fetal Bovine Serum
By growing muscle cells and a type of cells that produce growth factors together, Integriculture’s patented cell culture system reduces the culture medium cost and thereby enables more efficient production of cultured meat.
Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS) is expensive but would then not be needed anymore.