Alt Protein Pioneers Reach Consensus on “Grown” Terminology


October 31, 2022 — More than 30 Asia-Pacific stakeholders in the field of novel foods have reached agreement on the use of “cultivated” as a standard descriptor for novel cell-based products. Working towards regulatory standardization and building public trust, they will use the common term “cultured” as an English descriptor to identify meat and other food products grown directly from animal cells.

The consortium includes cellular agriculture groups in China, Japan and Australia; the multinationals Cargill and Thai Union; as well as start-ups Good Meat and Shiok Meats.

Cell-Based BOM
This decision to agree on a common and scientifically accurate term is considered vital to the long-term success of the cultured foods industry.

More than 30 stakeholders signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to the ‘cultivated’ terminology, which was then publicly revealed at Singapore’s International Agribusiness Week recently.

Signatories include leading start-ups GOOD Meat, Shiok Meats, Esco Aster, Umami Meats, TurtleTree and Avant, as well as regional coalition groups such as the China Alliance for Cellular Agriculture, Cellular Agriculture Australia, the Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture and Korean Society for Cellular Agriculture.

Other big names include the Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) – an entity launched jointly by the Singapore Food Agency, A*STAR and Nanyang Technological University – and major multinationals Cargill and Thai Union.

“Whenever new foods are introduced to mainstream consumers, there will be a steep learning curve,” comments Dr Shigeki Sugii, founder of Singapore-based start-up ImpacFat, which specializes in cultured juicy fish fat. rich in omega 3.

“That’s why it’s so exciting that our industry has unified early on behind the familiar and scientifically accurate term ‘cultured’, which reassures consumers that meat, seafood, fats and other products made from animal cells are grown and harvested safely and thoughtfully, in a process similar to growing plants in a greenhouse,” he explains.

“For startups like mine, having a common term to describe our field allows us to spend less time on basic consumer education and more on scaling a sustainable food system in Asia. .”

Standardize a new food product
A wide range of terms have previously been used to describe alternative meat, dairy and seafood products grown directly from animal cells, including “cultured”, “lab-grown” and “lab-grown” proteins. cell based.

New to research from the Good Food Institute (GFI) shows that consumers in Japan, Thailand, Singapore and South Korea are increasingly receptive to the new type of food, particularly in the seafood format.

As cultured meat, seafood and other products enter the broader consumer market in the coming years, it is important that buyers know exactly what they are buying and how it was made, so so that they can make clear and informed decisions.

“Having a standard phrase to describe products grown from animal cells also reduces the burden on new start-ups and companies to explain their production process to investors and regulators,” says Ryan Huling, head of Principal of Communications at the Good Food Institute APAC. .

The next step will be to assess how the newly selected English term translates into various Asian languages. The MOU sets a regional precedent that can be replicated in other regulatory markets around the world to benefit startups and consumers outside of Asia.

Garden City Food Technology Center
The location of this latest announcement was no coincidence. In recent years, Singapore has invested the necessary resources to make the city-state a welcoming ecosystem for food innovation and multilateral collaboration.

Singapore’s bold food innovation ambitions stem from its goal of meeting 30% of its nutritional needs locally by 2030, while creating new jobs and business opportunities in the emerging food tech sector.

For some entrepreneurs, the “garden city” has played a key role as a testing ground for new foods and a proactive player in accelerating the cultured meat category onto the global stage. It became a food tech hub with a vibe akin to the early days of Silicon Valley, when local start-ups quickly bought up office space that put them at the center of the action.

Singapore is the world’s largest cultured meat consumer market, providing fertile ground for innovation for products such as catch-free sashimi and shrimp. In February, Good Meat partnered with select vendors to serve its cultured chicken to a limited number of diners. The first pop-up was at Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice in Tiong Bahru, where the family stand featured cultured chicken in its famous curry rice dish.

Last week, a breakthrough powder rich in microbial protein »made from nothingusing CO2 and electricity – containing all essential amino acids – has received approval for use in various food applications in Singapore. This green light now paves the way for further approvals worldwide, according to Pasi Vainikka, the scientist behind Solein, who spoke with FoodIngredientsFirst about the regulatory “breakthrough”.

According AgFunder Analysis, last year was a “record” year for Asian agribusiness start-ups. Over the period, funding for this sector in Asia-Pacific reached $15.2 billion, a jump of 67% from the $9.1 billion raised in 2020. Nearly half went to China.

Next to Singapore, Thailand’s National Innovation Agency is pushing for Bangkok to become a full-fledged food tech hub. The agency has invested in food start-ups in the region as part of its “Space-F” project and plans to develop “deep technology” as a primary means of advancing its industry.

But this year, AgFunder reports that funding from Asian agribusiness players has “has decreased considerablyas businesses continue to battle global inflationary headwinds.

By Benjamin Ferrer

As meat, seafood and other cultured products enter the broader consumer market in the years to come, it is important that buyers know exactly what they are buying and how it has been manufactured.

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