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British billionaire entrepreneur and investor Jim Mellon is bullish on the future of cell-based meat. He’s just given his two cents in a new interview, predicting that cell-based meat will be cheaper than conventional meat within five years. Mellon even thinks that meat grown directly from cells will be more affordable than plant-based options.
In an interview with The Spoon’s Michael Wolf, Mellon goes all-in on the cell-based meat industry. Contrary to naysayers like Impossible Foods’ founder Patrick Brown, Mellon believes that cultured meat will soon reach price parity with its animal-based counterparts. That’s because meat grown in labs is simply far more efficient than raising and slaughtering animals.
Price parity within 5 years
Mellon predicts a 10-fold increase in efficiency thanks to cell-ag, and that “we’ll be at price parity within five years”. That’s a much shorter timeline than the 2030 prediction that a recent GFI report made.
“Five years is not a long time in the history of mankind,” he continued. “Within five years, the whole of the intensive farming industry will face a very dramatic threat to its existence.”
Impossible’s Brown also thinks that industrial farming is doomed for failure. He’s previously said that “transformation is inevitable” and that the meat industry will be wiped out within 15 years.
But where Mellon disagrees is Brown’s belief that plant-based meat is the answer. For Mellon, plant-based foods will become more affordable, but not by big enough margins to undercut cell-based options in the years ahead.
Cell-based will be cheaper than plant-based
“The price of plant-based foods has been coming down – Impossible has just lowered its price by 20% in the US – but there is a limit to that,” explained Mellon. “I think you’ll get parity [with conventional meat] possibly in 18 months time, with some of the plant-based foods. But I don’t think it’s going to go a lot below that.”
Mellon’s bullish stance on cell-based meat has been echoed by other industry watchers, like Ron Shigeta. He co-founded the biotech accelerator IndieBio and advises a number of food techs.
According to Shigeta, cell-based meat is “scaling like the internet”. He recorded cost estimates and milestones from companies in the space since 2013, and put them into a price plot. It showed that the scaling up and cost decrease of cell-based meat was steeper than Moore’s Law, which forecasted the increasing affordability of digital products.
Plus, Shigeta made his predictions before the world’s first cell-based meat was sold. Since Eat Just became the first to commercially sell its cultured chicken in Singapore, the startup has already expanded its cultured meat to home delivery.
Now, even big food companies are on board with cell-based meat, the latest being Nestlé. The CPG giant just announced its entry into the space with Israeli startup Future Meat.
Lead image courtesy of Jim Mellon.