Path to Price Parity: Ark Biotech’s Plan for Affordable Cultivated Meat
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New assessments from Massachusetts-based supplier to the cultivated meat industry, Ark Biotech, shows how cultivated meat could quickly become competitively priced alongside traditional animal-based meat.
Ark Biotech’s novel techno-economic analysis (TEA) highlights the potential for biomanufacturing advancements as more regulatory approval for cultivated meat is expected in key markets. The U.S. saw its first two manufacturers receive final regulatory approval last month.
Ark Biotech provides industrial-scale bioreactors, operating systems, and services to cultivated meat producers. The company believes that current production limitations are the primary barrier to the widespread adoption of cultivated meat. It identifies four key areas of focus to overcome those limitations: reducing the cost of media, improving cell mass, optimizing the bioprocess, and reducing capital spend.
“Industrial cell-culture achievements from the pharmaceutical industry can serve as a baseline for an achievable cost structure for cultivated meat,” reads the report. “Using pharmaceutical achievements as a baseline translates to cost of goods sold (COGS) of $29.5/lb (excluding downstream, packaging, and foodservice margins), reaching a cost comparable to filet mignon. There is ample room to further improve COGS, such as scaling-up media production and using larger bioreactors as well as surpassing pharmaceutical achievements through innovation.”
Scaling production capacity
Ark Biotech modeled production capacities at upwards of 50,000 metric tons, much larger than the 10,000 metric tons usually considered in such analyses. It has generated models for up to one million-liter bioreactors; most other studies have only looked at bioreactors with a capacity maximum of 25,000 to 250,000 liters.
“Cultivated meat is the most important landmark invention of our time, and bioreactors are critical to actualizing this historic change,” the report reads. A significant portion of bioreactor costs are fixed and most variable costs scale at a factor, says the report. “Reducing bioreactor spend is critical for reducing capital cost.”
Ark Biotech says it is designing bioreactor capacities that are 100 times larger than pharmaceutical plants, making energy and resource-efficient AI-operated systems that are capable of producing cells and structured tissues at high densities.
“A great deal of innovation has been made across the cultivated meat ecosystem,” reads the TEA. “With continued focused innovation, especially in the four areas highlighted in this TEA, cultivated meat can achieve price parity. With so much at stake, there’s no time to lose.”