Meatly hits cultivated meat milestone, cuts production costs

Agronomics said its portfolio company, Meatly, has achieved a significant milestone in developing a protein-free culture medium costing £1 per liter.

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Meatly’s cultivated chicken protein will be featured in Omni’s sustainable cat food formula.
Meatly’s cultivated chicken protein will be featured in Omni’s sustainable cat food formula.

Adapted from a press release.

Agronomics, an alternative proteins company, said its portfolio company, Meatly, a UK-based company that recently announced it created the world’s first cans of pet food that uses cultivated chicken as the protein source, has achieved a significant milestone in developing a protein-free culture medium costing £1 (US$1.26) per liter.

Argronomics noted culture medium is an essential element in the production of cultivated meat, providing cells with the nutrients required for in vitro viability and proliferation. Although animal cell culture is routinely performed in academic labs, creating the amount of biomass required for commercial scale and price points demands significant cost reductions and innovations for the replacement of certain medium components such as fetal bovine serum and albumin.

Therefore, medium costs account for a significant portion of the costs of producing cultivated meat and reducing them is a well-known hurdle the industry faces as it looks to scale up and achieve price parity with conventional meat products, said the company.

Bringing cultivated meat cost to price-parity with conventional meat 

Agronomics' team has observed that medium prices vary substantially between companies and in some cases are still at levels exceeding hundreds of pounds per liter, making industrial production economically unviable. Meatly's new medium, however, contains no serum, animal-derived components, steroids, hormones, growth factors or antibiotics, and is used in their suspension culture bioreactors without microcarriers.

"Meatly's creation of the very first protein-free medium establishes the company as a true technological leader within its field," said Jim Mellon, founder of Agronomics, an investor in Meatly. "Medium accounts for the majority of the costs involved in the production of cultivated meat and Meatly has single-handedly slashed those costs a hundredfold or more. This is a huge step forward in bringing the cost of cultivated meat to price-parity with conventional meat and, ultimately, toward the mass adoption of cultivated products. The company expects to shortly receive regulatory approval."

The absence of these expensive proteins, such as transferrin and insulin, as well as growth factors and microcarriers, means the production of Meatly's protein-free culture medium at an industrial scale is economically viable -- at the price of £1 (US$1.26) per liter. Meatly believes further cost reduction will be possible when higher volumes of the medium are purchased, said Helder Cruz, cofounder and chief scientific officer at Meatly.

"Our protein-free culture medium represents a critical milestone for us and the wider cultivated meat industry," said Cruz. "By setting this new benchmark, we are driving the cost of production down significantly, which is something the industry has been grappling with for years and is a huge step forward in scaling our technology and making our products available to pet owners at an affordable price and on a commercial scale."

Looking forward

Looking ahead, Meatly is gearing up for the release of its product in the coming months, backed by investors such as Pets at Home and Agronomics. Recently, Meatly announced the production of the world's first cans of cultivated pet food, which it aims to sell in the UK this year, becoming the first company to sell cultivated meat in Europe.

Announced in March, the product was created in collaboration with its brand partner, Omni, a novel protein pet food company in the UK. For Omni, which has achieved more than £2 million (US $2.5 million) in sales to date selling dog food crafted from pulse, algae and yeast protein diets, this first venture into the cultivated meat market comes in the form of canned wet food for cats. 

Meatly (previously known as Good Dog Food) was founded in 2022 by CEO Owen Ensor and CSO Dr. Helder Cruz with backing from investor Agronomics. The company said it produces ethical and sustainable cultivated meat products without compromising on essential nutritional benefits. Its current focus is on the pet food market.

Agronomics is a leading listed alternative proteins company with a focus on cellular agriculture including precision fermentation and cultivated meat. The company has established a portfolio of over 20 companies and seeks to secure minority stakes in companies that offer new ways of producing food and materials with a focus on products historically derived from animals. 

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