In March, the company announced that it created the “world’s first chicken strip from animal cells,” following their animal-free meatball debut in 2016. Lab-grown beef was previously developed in 2012 by a group of Dutch scientists.
“Essentially, we are taking a number of animal cells, giving them clean and nutritious food and then we watch them grow into a muscle. We harvest that muscle and then cook it,” Valeti says.
The whole process from start to finish takes about four to six weeks, depending on the texture. Valeti says the company’s current main goal is to raise capital and lower their production costs, in order to quickly bring the product to market.
“We’re not allowed to disclose our investors, but we are raising a round now and we are looking to continue to lower the costs – another 10 to 20 fold in the next 18 months – so we can start bringing this closer to reality,” he says.
Production costs currently run about $6,000 per pound of meat, which is drastically down from a year ago, when it was $18,000 per pound. However, Valeti says a lot of work still needs to be done to meet traditional store-bought meat production costs at about $4 or less.
Memphis Meats is one of many startups aiming to disrupt the $200 billion meat and poultry industry. Companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat already have meat substitutes (made from plants, not animal cell tissue) on store shelves.
“What we have done is figure out a way to take those same type of materials from plants and run them through a process of heating, cooling and pressure to create a piece of meat. So, you’re getting essentially the same things in terms of proteins, fats and water but it’s coming directly through a system that comes from plants versus going through the animal,” Ethan Brown, CEO and co-founder of Beyond Meat, told FOX Business in October.