In recent years, awareness of the impact that the human consumption of meat has on the environment has grown considerably and this pushes more and more people towards so-called ‘alternative proteins’. As a result, attempts to create artificial meat in the laboratory have increased and today a step forward in this direction has been made by Aleph Farms, an Israeli startup that has created in 3D the first rib of beef that does not contain any animal fibre, therefore it was created without exploiting or killing any animals.
Already in 2018, Aleph Farms created the first laboratory-grown thin-cut steak. This, according to Didier Toubia, CEO of the company, had between 60 and 70% of the taste and flavour of a traditional one. After two years of research and work together with Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, the startup has now created a rib that is identical in terms of nutrition and taste to a classic beef steak.
The cut of meat was produced thanks to the three-dimensional bioprinting technology which, has created biomedical parts that imitate the characteristics of natural tissues in all aspects. It was taken from real beef cells without inflicting pain on the animal.
In fact, the four primary cells that makeup meat are: muscle tissue, fat, blood and supporting cells, which make up the material, one could say the ink, to be used in the 3D printer.
Unlike standard 3D printing technology, 3D bioprinting is, therefore, the printing of real living cells which are then incubated to grow, differentiate and interact, recreating the muscle, fat, nutrients and vascular configuration of the meat, which it acquires. Thus it has the same consistency and qualities as a piece obtained from a real animal source.
This type of technology will make it possible in the future to produce any cut of synthetic meat you want.
What does this breakthrough mean for future opportunities?
The Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Aleph Foods, Shulamit Levenberg, has shared his opinion on the future of 3D-bioprinting. He says: “the future looks bright and there is immense potential in the long term”. Shulamit Levenberg is also a professor at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Furthermore, it can also be used to regulate all the characteristics of the meat created, including the amount of fat. “We can control the whole growing process, and by adjusting the amount of collagen, connective tissue and fat we can create the right kind of meat for every market. With 3D bioprinting we can adapt our meat to any specific need, ”said Toubia.
Aleph Farms believes that its innovative method is an important leap towards “the dream of creating a more sustainable, equitable and safer world”.
The fast-growing artificial meat market
The artificial meat market is still at a nascent stage. It is still in the developing stage. This opens up a lot of room for multiple players to come in and experiment. Aleph Farms is not just the only player in the market right now who are diving into the artificial meat industry. Another Israeli company, Meat-Tech 3D is also experimenting and venturing into 3D printing cell-based meat. They have the objective to become suppliers to fast food giants.
Amongst other players, Novameat based out of Spain has been successful in 3D printing the world’s biggest cut of cultivated meat. With each passing month, more players are getting closer to having a more marketable and profitable product portfolio.
Currently, however, lab-grown steaks are much more expensive than their organic counterparts, due to both resource and skill limitations. Despite this, the company hopes to increase its production in the coming years and perhaps, after the approval of the competent authorities, to bring the ribs of artificial beef to the shelves of supermarkets around the world.
The Swiss Institute for Disruptive Innovation understands the importance of having a sustainable and healthier alternative to meat. We support the company’s enthusiasm and desire to change the world for the better through an innovative outlook and approach.