11 March 2019 – Be it insect feed or cultured meat, both technologies are seen as economically promising and boast attractive sustainability credentials, but the audience at the 6th Global Feed and Food Congress today were told that these technologies are not here to replace traditional meats or protein feeds but simply act as interesting and viable alternatives to help meet future growth in demand for meat and feed.

“Cultured meat is an additional tool in the toolbox. We are meat, we are not a meat substitute,” claimed Didier Toubia, CEO, Aleph Farms, who describes his company as a ‘meat growing company’.

“Imagine a steak in 2023 which is sustainable, ethical and with no pathogens – that is Aleph Farms’ vision,” he added.

Cultured meat has the potential to produce more meat with the same resources, with little water usage, and no additional land resources are required. It is seen to reduce the negative environmental impact of livestock, foodborne illnesses and improving animal welfare by removing slaughtering from the equation, said Toubia.

“Only 30% of the animal today is turned into meat. Cultured meat can be cultivated in densely populated areas and will allow us to cut on transport costs. It takes two years to get a steak from a cow and only three 3 weeks via cultured technology just via cell sampling and then tissue formation,” he commented.

Meanwhile, in terms of insect feed, Heinrich Katz, CEO, Hermetia Baruth GmbH (Germany’s largest producer) and Member Executive Board of International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), estimated that in the EU there are approximately a dozen companies ramping up production at the moment, with industrial-scale investments expected to begin operating nearer 2025.

According to IPIFF data, the estimated production volume of insect feed in the EU was about 190,000 tons in 2018. The target is to reach 1.213 million tons in 2025. But even then, insect feed will remain a protein alternative as the figure remains relatively low compared to the 5 million tons fishmeal produced per year on average.

Heavy investments still need to be made and various consumer expectations need to be addressed but both Toubia and Katz believe that there will be high consumer acceptance for cultured meat and insect feed. It is the regulatory challenge that can be considered one of the biggest hurdles for the deployment of their respective technologies, they said.