By 2040, more than half of the meat we eat will no longer come from farmed animals. Rather, it will be in the form of vegan or lab-grown protein, according to a new report published by United Kingdom intellectual property specialists GovGrant.

GovGrant’s report notes that companies are expected to make continued progress and break down more barriers related to vegan and cultured meat over the next several years. Specifically, by 2040, GovGrant predicts that cultured meat will make up 35 percent of the world’s meat consumption, and vegan meat replacements will comprise 25 percent—leaving less room for the way we traditionally produce meat.  

“Since there’s such huge potential demand for lab-grown meat, that’ll only spur companies on to innovate further and perfect their products,” Adam Simmonds, a research associate at GovGrant, said in a statement. 

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“This could become an interesting area of growth for the US and other countries, particularly as not many nations possess the expertise to produce this meat. There will definitely be an uplift in the number of producers, who’ll want to take full advantage of the upcoming boom in demand.”

United States leads growth of cultivated meat

Cultured meat, also known as lab-grown or cultivated meat, uses a small amount of animal cells and grows them in a lab setting to make a food product. The benefits to cultured meat are vast, with life-cycle assessments indicating that it will use significantly less land and water, emit fewer greenhouse gasses, and reduce agriculture-related pollution and eutrophication—in addition to no longer needing to face the ethical issues in the raising and slaughtering of animals.

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Because the cultured meat sector is predicted to grow rapidly in its market share within the food industry, the report highlights the countries poised to lead the development. According to the report, the United States is currently responsible for over 60 percent of global investment in cultured meat—more than all other countries combined—and has broken the billion-dollar mark in the process. 

Comparatively, Israel (21.72 percent), the Netherlands (5.67 percent), Singapore (4.61 percent), and the United Kingdom (1.31 percent) round out the top five of GovGrant’s list of countries most invested in cultured meats, while China (1.17 percent), South Korea (0.97 percent), Japan (0.60 percent), France (0.49 percent), and Spain (0.46 percent) round out the top 10. 

Regulatory approval of cultured meat

Ever since the Singapore Food Agency approved Eat Just’s cultured chicken, created under its subsidiary GOOD Meat, in December 2020, there have been little other regulatory approvals for commercial sale of cultured meat products. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently took a step towards allowing the sale of cultured meat in the US, deeming a meat product from UPSIDE Foods to be safe for human consumption while also engaging with multiple other firms to do the same.

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Last November, California-based company UPSIDE Foods received a generally regarded as safe (GRAS) letter from the FDA, deeming its cultivated chicken filet safe for consumption in the US. 

UPSIDE Foods worked with the FDA to receive its GRAS letter, becoming the first company in the world to get the FDA green light for cultured meat. In addition to releasing a memo explaining its approval, the FDA published a 104-page document prepared by UPSIDE Foods detailing the safety and production process of the company’s cultivated chicken filet.

“We are thrilled at FDA’s announcement that, after a rigorous evaluation, FDA accepts UPSIDE’s conclusion that our cultivated chicken is safe to eat,” David Kay, UPSIDE Foods’ Director of Communications, previously told VegNews.

“UPSIDE Foods is ushering in a new era in meat production with this ‘No Questions’ letter, and this historic step paves the way for our path to market in the United States,” Kay said.

UPSIDE Foods has been working towards approval since 2018, when the company worked with meat industry group North American Meat Institute (NAMI) to support the establishment of a regulatory framework that pairs the FDA and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) together in granting regulatory approval for cultivated meat. UPSIDE is now moving on to gain approval from the USDA

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UPSIDE Foods’ regulatory approval could pave the way for mass market adoption in the US. “With the FDA rubber-stamping lab-grown meat as safe, the market should really take off now,” Alec Griffiths, IP manager at GovGrant, said in a statement. 

“That makes it more important than ever for companies to protect their assets, so we can expect to see an acceleration in the number of patents filed in the coming months and years—and plenty of new faces in the sector.”

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