Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tasted cultivated steak developed by food tech Aleph Farms, becoming the first head of a government to do so. The taste test was a part of Netanyahu’s national policy plan to propel Israel as a leader in alternative protein and pledged to support the country’s fast-growing industry.
Israel’s prime minister on Monday (December 7) visited Aleph Farms’ headquarters in Rehovot, where he toured the company’s facilities and the sustainable production process to develop cultivated meat. Aleph Farms grows its cell-based meat directly from cow cells under controlled conditions, using a fraction of the resources compared to conventional livestock production and without the need for antibiotics.
It’s delicious and guilt-free, I can’t taste the difference. I have directed the State Secretary Tzahi Braverman to appoint a body to serve these industries in order to connect and oversee all the stakeholders operating in this field. Israel will become a powerhouse for alternative meat and alternative protein.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu was accompanied by the Good Food Institute Israel (GFI Israel) managing director Nir Goldstein and the government’s animal rights advisor, Tal Gilboa.
“It’s delicious and guilt-free, I can’t taste the difference,” said the prime minister shortly after tasting the cell-based steak developed by Aleph Farms. “I have directed the State Secretary Tzahi Braverman to appoint a body to serve these industries in order to connect and oversee all the stakeholders operating in this field. Israel will become a powerhouse for alternative meat and alternative protein.”
Co-founded by Didier Toubia and Shulamit Levenberg along with the Israel food giant Strauss Group in 2017, Aleph Farms has since its inception raised a US$12 million Series A round and is currently in the process of transitioning its products to pilot production as soon as next year. The Cargill-backed company says it is planning to launch its products commercially by the end of 2022, and has also since launched a new space program to grow steaks in extraterrestrial environments in partnership with space agencies.
Netanyahu’s tour also included a presentation by Goldstein and the startup’s co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia, who outlined a roadmap to propel Israel as a global alternative protein leader. The country is already regarded as an food tech innovation hub, where plant-based and cell-based startups have emerged and have worked alongside food industry players, government figures and research institutions to create novel, sustainable protein solutions at a time when food security is high on the agenda.
Among some of the cultivated protein food techs Israel is home to includes SuperMeat, who have recently opened the world’s first restaurant test kitchen where consumers can order cultivated chicken burgers, 3D-printed cell-based meat company MeatTech and Future Meat Technologies.
With governmental support in this industry, we could enjoy 11,000 additional jobs that would earn the economy billions of dollars each year. Israel which currently exports only 5% of the food it produces, could become a global supplier of raw materials and advanced production technologies for alternative proteins.Nir Goldstein, Managing Director, GFI Israel
“The new national plan for alternative proteins involves six different ministries and capitalises on Israel’s unique capabilities,” said Toubia. “Aleph Farms is a great example of such collaboration between a governmental agency, the industry, and the academy – all working together to secure a leading position in this key industry. The goal of implementing such national programs for food security is to provide unconditional and secure supplies of quality nutrition to anyone, anytime, anywhere.”
“Alternative protein production could prove to be a central economic growth engine for Israel,” added Goldstein. “With governmental support in this industry, we could enjoy 11,000 additional jobs that would earn the economy billions of dollars each year. Israel which currently exports only 5% of the food it produces, could become a global supplier of raw materials and advanced production technologies for alternative proteins.”
The milestone achievement of having the head of a government taste and pledge support to cultivated meat is yet another landmark for the wider alternative protein industry, which has already been on a buzz following the world’s first regulatory approval of cell-based meat in Singapore. Last week, San Francisco-based Eat Just announced that the Singapore Food Agency has allowed the commercial sale of its cultured chicken.
“Israel is creating a welcoming ecosystem for alternative protein innovation, and the Prime Minister being the first head of state to eat cultivated meat exemplifies this support and underlines the nation’s commitment to the future of meat,” commented Bruce Friedrich, executive director of GFI.
Lead image courtesy of Koby Gidon of the Israel Government Press Office (GPO).