Meatly protein-free medium enables affordable, scalable cell-cultivated meat

Meatly's animal-free medium grows animal cells for just £1 per litre, making large-scale production affordable.
Meatly protein-free medium enables affordable, scalable cell-cultivated meat

Cell-cultivated meat company Meatly announces the development of a protein-free culture medium  — the first of its kind in the cultivated meat industry. This marks a significant step forward in the quest for animal-free, cost-effective cultivated meat production.

A culture medium is the mix of nutrients used by companies in the cultivated meat industry to grow animal cells. It is essential to the production process and accounts for most of the costs involved

Even more impressive, the company has created this medium (plurally known as media) for just £1 per litre — according to the company, comparable alternatives cost hundreds of pounds per litre to produce.

Meatly's new medium contains no serum, animal-derived components, steroids, hormones, growth factors, or antibiotics, and it is used in their suspension culture bioreactors without micro-carriers. 

The absence of expensive proteins, growth factors, and micro-carriers means that the future industrial scale will be economically viable. The cost will be brought down even further when higher volumes of the medium are purchased.

Reducing these costs has been a major hurdle as the industry looks to scale up and, eventually, achieve price parity with traditional meat products.

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. 

As well as being cost-effective, the ingredients Meatly uses in its culture medium are food-safe. Through it, Meatly can reach this industrial scale faster and contribute to making cultivated meat a safe and affordable reality.

In March, Meatly announced the production of the world's first cultivated pet food. It aims to sell its products in the UK this year, becoming the first company to sell cultivated meat in Europe. 

To date, Meatly has raised £3.6 million, significantly less capital than other cultivated meat companies, proving there is a fast and cost-effective way to scale cultivated meat.

Commenting on the news, Helder Cruz, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Meatly, said: 

"Our protein-free culture medium represents a critical milestone for us and the wider cultivated meat industry. 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. It is a huge step forward in scaling our technology and making our products available to pet owners on a commercial scale and at an affordable price."

Jim Mellon, Founder of Agronomics, an investor in Meatly, added: 

"Meatly's creation of the very first protein-free medium establishes the company as a true technological leader within its field

Media 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 receive regulatory approval shortly, and I am excited to feed their delicious products to my dogs."

Looking ahead, Meatly is gearing up to release its product in the coming months, backed by investors such as Pets at Home and Agronomics.

In November last year, cell-cultivated meat company Bene Meat Technologies (BMT) became the first company to be granted European Union certification in the European Feed Materials Register for laboratory-grown meat for use in pet food.

This gives the company the green light to develop its product further, scale up production, and make the product available to shoppers. 

However, cell-cultivated meat is facing increasing challenges to scale. 

In the US, Florida has enacted a ban against cell-cultivated meats for human consumption, while Alabama, Arizona, and Tennessee are all considering banning cell-cultivated meat at the state level.

Despite significant gains in The Netherlands, Italy has enacted a nationwide ban on cell-cultivated meat. Meanwhile, several other European countries are actively working to restrict or limit its development and sale at the EU level. 

It's foreseeable that more than one of Meatly's contemporaries may opt to pivot to pet food. 

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