A new cultivated meat factory slated to open in North Carolina will be the world’s largest.
In what Israel-based Believer Meats says is a watershed moment for the cultivated meat industry, its forthcoming 200,000-square-foot factory, which doesn’t yet have a target opening date, will be able to produce 22 million pounds of meat annually once operational, making it the largest cultivated meat factory in the world.
The facility, which broke ground earlier this week, is coming to Wilson County, North Carolina — the heart of the state’s hog farming industry. North Carolina is the third-largest hog-producing state in the U.S. The facility will bring as many as 100 jobs to the region over the next three years, and an investment of $123.35 million to Wilson County. The company has raised more than $387 million since its 2018 launch.
One step closer to commercialization
“Our facility propels Believer forward as a leader in the cultivated meat industry,” Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, Believer’s CEO said in a statement. “Our brand has continually proven our commitment to scale production technology and capacity, and with our new U.S. production center, we are one step closer to commercialization. Believer is setting the standard globally to make it possible for future generations to eat and enjoy meat.”
Believer, formerly Future Meat Technologies, said it specifically targeted North Carolina because of its talent pool and its success in integrating technology-driven solutions.
“We’re pleased to welcome Believer Meats to North Carolina,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “This important decision to build its first U.S. commercialization operation in Wilson County validates our innovative research and development and highly skilled talent while further cementing our state as the best in the nation to do business.”
The new facility will feature custom-made bioreactors that Believer says can achieve high cell densities and yields. The company has developed cultivated lamb, which it hails as an R&D breakthrough.
Robert Rankin, Executive Director of the Association for Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Innovation (AMPS) oday’s hailed the announcement as “another example of the growth, progress and increased interest in this cutting-edge industry,” he said.
The announcement also earned praise from the industry think tank, the Good Food Institute.
“We celebrate this milestone and are thrilled to see the North Carolina and Wilson County officials and community providing critically important support to scale cultivated meat production. These steps pave the way for cultivated meat to come to market in the U.S. at scale and helps ensure as many consumers as possible have access to these groundbreaking products,” says Liz Specht, Ph.D., Vice President of Science and Technology at the Good Food Institute. “Further government investment like this will advance the sector toward commercialization, helping to feed a growing population more sustainably, spurring economic growth, and improving environmental and global health outcomes.”
The future of protein
Johnson-Hoffman said Believer, and the cultivated meat industry at large, are “on the path” to creating change. “Through affordability, approachability, and availability, we want our products to become the meat of choice globally, and with the announcement of our new production facility, we are well on our way.”
Believer’s new facility will be among a growing handful of dedicated cultivated meat factories across the globe. Upside Foods’ EPIC factory in California could soon be operational as the company just earned FDA GRAS status for its cultivated chicken. Once it receives USDA approval it could begin producing for commercial distribution.
Eat Just, which is currently the only company with approval for cultivated meat in the world, is expected to bring its Good Meat factory online in Singapore early next year. The company says it will be able to produce tens of thousands of pounds of meat per year.
Elsewhere, Ivy Farms opened the largest cultivated meat factory in Europe last summer, capable of producing three tons of cultivated meat annually. And in October, Australian cultivated meat company Vow debuted Factory 1, its NSW-based factory capable of producing 30 tons of cultured meat per year.