Yesterday, two men ate what an old buddy of mine called “the most disgusting and overpriced hamburger in the world”.
The meat of this burger was grown in a petri dish inside a Maastricht University lab.
It began as just a few stem cells taken from a cow’s shoulder and morphed into a 5-ounce patty composed of 20,000 connected muscle strands.
The meat has been coined “cultured beef”, and it ended up looking like this:
But wait a second… That actually doesn’t look so bad.
Could lab-grown meat actually be that appealing?
Well, yes and no. While lab-grown meat will eventually rival conventional agricultural meat, there are plenty of strides still left to take.
A Growing Industry
Despite being 100 percent real and safe to eat, lab-grown meat apparently still leaves much to be desired in terms of taste and texture.
This is mainly because the meat currently contains no fat and no blood cells – fat makes a burger tasty, and blood makes it juicy. Yesterday’s taste testers described the texture as “cakey” and the taste as “not there”, meaning it doesn’t taste like a real burger yet.
But we are in the the early stages of cultured beef. Maastricht University’s Dr. Mark Post’s next step is adding grown fat cells into the mix. And while there is no mention of adding blood cells, it is entirely possible to grow blood as well.
It’s only a matter of time before lab-grown meat becomes a quality product and disrupts the agricultural industry as we know it. It is no longer a matter of whether or not we can do it – the answer to that question is a clear yes – it is now a matter of how much money we can do it for.
The 5-ounce burger that was taste-tested yesterday cost approximately $331,200 to make. Considering our financially literate reader-base, I am going to assume you wouldn’t be willing to pay that much…
But where there is demand, supply and innovation will follow. The World Health Organization expects the demand for meat to double within the next 40 years. And current methods of meat production just aren’t going to cut it.
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The World’s Most Disgusting Meat
When all is said and done, lab-grown meat doesn’t even come close to earning that title.
Now, I’m not a vegetarian. In fact, I absolutely love meat. Yet I am well aware of how harmful our current meat industry is. The fact is, current production methods are absolutely terrible for consumer health, animal rights, and the environment.
But most of us already know all about that. What often goes unreported, however, is the dire economic outlook of agricultural meat – an outlook that will only be improved by lab-grown meat.
Here are just a few reasons why:
- According to the Stockholm International Water Institute, we will not have enough water to produce meat using current methods within several decades (1.5 thousand gallons of water are needed to produce just 1 lb of meat).
UK beef supply is at a 60 year low.
U.S. beef supply has fallen for 4 straight years and is currently at a 21-year low.
70 percent of farm land is already used for livestock, and lab-grown beef uses 99 percent less space than farming.
Cattle Futures are up 6 percent next year.
Agricultural livestock consumes 70 percent of the world’s antibiotics.
We should also keep in mind that much of that $331,200 price tag comes from research and development costs which will greatly diminish in an environment of mass production.
There is no doubt in my mind that lab-grown meat will become commercially available in our lifetime. Some are suggesting that we will see these products at our local grocery store within 10-20 years. Personally, I think it will happen sooner than that.
In any case, lab-grown meat will be incredibly disruptive and will determine the fate of a variety of industries. Investment opportunities will arise, and when they do, we will be there to cash in.
Turning progress to profits,
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