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MeaTech to Open Plant in Belgium for 3D Printing Cultured Chicken Fat

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Plenty of additive manufacturing industry firms have launched IPOs since the end of last year, like Desktop Metal, Norsk Titanium, and also MeaTech 3D Ltd., the first cell-cultured meat company to be publicly listed. At the moment, alternative meat is a major 3D printing application as more people in the world are trying to curtail irresponsible amounts of waste, and, as MeaTech puts it, the “food industry’s burgeoning demand for livestock creates massive environmental, health, financial and ethical problems.” Launching an IPO was just the first major step for the Israeli company, and now it’s taking another one: MeaTech has announced its imminent plans to establish, own, and operate a pilot plant next year, with the initial goal of 3D printing real meat cuts out of cultured chicken fat for industry partnerships.

“MeaTech 3D is developing an alternative to industrialized farming, circumventing the ethical and environmental issues surrounding conventional animal husbandry by developing an industrial cultured meat production process with integrated 3D printing technology,” the company states on its website.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) says that the meat and poultry industry is “a dynamic part of the U.S. economy, accounting for about $1,221.82 billion in total economic output,” as well as directly employing 1,750,540 Americans, in 2019. But according to MeaTech, it is also extremely pollutive, with at least 18% of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere coming from the livestock industry, and 33% of global croplands used to produce animal feed for this industry. The cultured meat company is unique in that it created a much less wasteful, more ethical process for 3D printing meat that actually comes directly from animals; no plant-based burgers here!

MeaTech scientists take umbilical cord samples from animals like cows, without harming them, and then develop the cells into a continuous line of production. As the researchers separate fat and muscle cells, different types of bioink are used to mark them for bioprinting, and the cells are then incubated and grown into edible products.

MeaTech recently acquired Belgium’s Peace of Meat PV, which has public taste tests as well as laboratory work to back up its claim that cultured chicken fat, like what MeaTech plans to produce at its new plant in Belgium, could potentially enhance the texture, flavor, and mouthfeel of alternative meat products by a lot, while at the same time decreasing the amount of ingredients needed.

“Setting up a pilot plant to produce Peace of Meat’s cultured chicken fat at scale will be a significant milestone. With it, we believe we can demonstrate a fully functional production process to B2B customers looking to include cultured ingredients in their products,” stated Dirk von Heinrichshorst, the CEO and Co-Founder of Peace of Meat. “We believe the pilot plant can be a model for larger scale future production facilities.”

While initial plans for its new plant in Belgium will be to 3D print cultured chicken fat, MeaTech’s future goal will be to use 3D bioprinting to fabricate real meat cuts, like chicken breast and steak.

“We believe that our cultured fat is an extremely promising additive ingredient that can potentially improve the taste, texture, and mouthfeel of plant-based alternative meats, which we believe can further drive market growth,” said Sharon Fima, CEO of MeaTech.

“A key challenge facing the cultured meat industry is cost-efficient production. We believe that establishing this pilot plant facility and scaling up our cellular agriculture technologies will be a significant step forward toward achieving cost parity with conventional meat as well as realizing MeaTech’s vision for the ‘Factory of the Future’ – comprising the inputs, processes and equipment underlying a flexible cultured meat manufacturing facility.”

(Source: Vegconomist / Images: MeaTech)

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