Our global focus on producing cheap meat, dairy, and other animal products has put the planet in an incredibly difficult spot. Around half of the world’s arable land and a majority of our freshwater stores are dedicated to grazing livestock and growing feed – and yet, nearly one billion people currently suffering from hunger. If our collective demand for animal products continues to grow as we approach a population of 9.8 billion by 2050, we simply won’t have the space or water needed to keep up.
The question of how we’re going to meet the protein needs of the planet is rapidly becoming the biggest challenge of our time. But for some of the world’s top food producers and business owners, they have found the answer: lab-grown, cultured “clean” meat.
That’s right, it was recently announced that Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jack and Suzy Welch, Kyle Vogt, Kimbal Musk, New Crop Capital (Bruce Friedrich, the managing trustee, who was recently featured on #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias) SOSV, Fifty Years, Inevitable Ventures, top venture capital fund DFJ, as well as Europe’s largest venture capital firm Atomico, and KBW Ventures (led by Prince Khaled, who was also recently interviewed) have all invested in Memphis Meats, a San Franciso-based clean meat company.
This is the first time ever a leading venture capital fund has invested in clean meat … but that’s not where this incredible news ends – major beef supplier and global food conglomerate, Cargill ALSO took part, making it the first time a major meat company has invested in clean meat.
DFJ previously invested in Twitter, Tumblr, Skype, and Tumblr and now they are the lead investor in Memphis Meat’s Series A funding of $17 million. That’s right, $17 million has just been put toward developing clean meat!
Memphis Meats has already succeeded at producing a lab-cultured meatball and chicken nugget. Now with this new investment, the company plans to scale up their clean meat production, as well as reduce production costs to levels comparable, or even below, convention meat costs.
“We’re going to bring meat to the plate in a more sustainable, affordable and delicious way … the way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare, and human health. These are problems that everyone wants to solve, and we can solve them by bringing this incredible group of partners under one tent,” explained Uma Valeti, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Memphis Meats.
The reality is, people are likely never going to stop eating meat – but if they have the option to choose a product that is better for the environment and animals then we could truly see a major shift in our food system. We cannot afford to keep consuming the amount of meat that we do using the factory farm system. By moving away from giant animal feeding operations that produce more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry – in addition to water pollution – and concentrating meat production to contained labs, we start to heal the planet and, importantly, feed our population without causing undue harm.
We are beyond thrilled to see such prominent business influencers and a meat production company take part in this move towards a more sustainable future. As the population becomes more aware of the impact of industrialized agriculture, the demand for plant-based proteins and clean meat will only keep growing.
We can’t wait to see what Memphis Meat has in store! For more information about trends in the plant-based food space and new companies joining in, check out One Green Planet’s Future of Food.
To learn more about clean meat and the people working to make it a reality, check out these recent episodes of the #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast:
All image source: Memphis Meats