San Francisco-based food startup Hampton Creek announced today plans to break into the cultured meat (also known as “clean meat”) industry. For the past year, the company—most commonly known for its vegan Just Mayo product—has been secretly developing an alternative to meat (including seafood) produced through cellular agriculture, in which a small number of animal cells are first grown in a lab setting and then transferred to a bioreactor to grow. While competing clean meat companies such as Mosa Meat and Memphis Meats rely on an animal-based “serum” (a liquid in which the cells grow) in the production of clean meat, Hampton Creek extracts its serum from plant compounds. “The fact that Hampton Creek has so many resources at its fingertips is very promising for speeding up the commercialization of clean meat,” Humane Society’s Vice President of Policy Paul Shapiro said. Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick told media outlet Quartz that he is currently in negotiations with potential investors (including those from the meat industry) to help bring the company’s product to market. “The entry of a billion-dollar company into the clean meat market sector is a vote of confidence in the technology,” food advocacy firm Good Food Institute’s Executive Director Bruce Friedrich said, “and we hope that Hampton Creek will be the first of many major food companies to dive into this incredibly promising field.” Tetrick plans to debut Hampton Creek’s first meat alternative by the end of next year—three years earlier than competitor Memphis Meats.
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