Food tech startup Aleph Farms has partnered with Mitsubishi Corporation to scale up production of its lab-grown steaks in Japan.

The memorandum of understanding will combine Aleph Farms’ BioFarm manufacturing platform with Mitsubishi’s supply chains, biotechnology expertise and branded food manufacturing.

Lab-grown meat, also referred to as cultivated or cultured meat, is meat created using in vitro cell cultures rather than living animals. These cells are cultivated in a lab using tissue engineering techniques.

In November 2020, Aleph Farms unveiled a prototype of its first commercial lab-grown steak. The cultivated steak is grown from non-genetically modified cells taken from a living cow.

The Rehovot, Israel-headquartered startup claims its lab-grown steaks have the same “nutritional, culinary, and sensory attributes” as meat from slaughtered animals.

Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, told Bloomberg that Aleph Farms, which is backed by Cargill, Migros, and the Strauss Group, aims to sell lab-grown meat products to consumers in Asia next year and was “excited to bring cultivated meat production closer to the Japanese market”.

“The MoU with Mitsubishi Corporation’s Food Industry Group marks an important milestone for us, as we methodically build the foundations of our global go-to-market activities with selected partners,” said Toubia.

“The cooperation demonstrates Aleph Farms’ strategy of working together with the food and meat industries to ensure a successful integration of cultivated meat within the ecosystem, while maximising the positive impact we make. We are excited to bring cultivated meat production closer to the Japanese market.”

With the global cultured meat industry expected to be worth $291.4m by 2027, many startups are now pushing to develop and commercialise cultivated meat products.

In December, lab-grown meat products went on sale for the first time in Singapore following approval from the Singapore Food Agency.

Lab-grown meat significantly reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional meat production.

In April 2020, Aleph Farms committed to eliminating emissions associated with its meat, production by 2025 and reach net-zero emissions across its entire supply chain by 2030. Last year, the Japanese government made a commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

However, the industry has struggled to bring down the costs of production to a commercially viable level.

The first cultured meat burger, made in 2013, cost $300,000 to produce. Since then the price has fallen dramatically, with the Mitsubishi-Aleph partnership aiming to bring the unit cost of its cultivated steaks.


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