You sit down at an upscale restaurant, prepared to be treated to a delectable meal.
As you peruse the menu, your stomach rumbles, and your eyes scan the offerings for something that will sate you.
Steak? Fish? Chicken? Your mind races. It’s a poultry type of evening, you decide.
The food arrives, you take a bite, chew, swallow, smile.
Except, here’s the thing – that chicken may not be what we’re accustomed to. It isn’t farm raised, or the product of one of the more than 230,000 poultry farms in America.
Instead, it is the product of science – and we may just be years away from restaurant-goers ordering chicken that’s grown in a lab.
If that’s unsettling, that’s understandable. But we’re closer than ever to it being a reality.
UPSIDE Foods, a California-based startup, is one of 110 different startups focused on bringing cultivated meat to market.
Unlike the plant-based meats that ascended to popularity during the pandemic, these cultivated meats are not necessarily substitutes, but rather alternatives.
By using actual chicken cells, these startups are able to manufacture chicken in a lab environment.
In doing so, it opens the door to a future of food stability that exists without the environmental harm caused by animal farms or the moral issues associated with taking an animal’s life.
And the industry reached a landmark moment in November, as UPSIDE became the first company to receive Food and Drug Administration clearance for its cultivated meat.
This approval lays the groundwork and roadmap for other startups to do the same, and estimates suggest that by the year 2025, cultivated meat will be available to consumers in grocery stores and restaurants.
Naturally there are hurdles to overcome before that point. Those who’ve tasted the cultivated chicken say it, well, tastes like chicken, though the texture might be slightly different than what we’re accustomed to.
Meanwhile, the current cost of producing a pound of cultivated chicken is more than 8X that of a pound of conventional poultry.
However, now that FDA approval has been secured, UPSIDE – and the industry as the whole – can begin taking those next steps toward commercialization.
There’s good reason McKinsey projected the cultivated meat industry will reach $25 billion by 2030.
The time is now to start trying to identify the startups that will help it reach that standing.