Shanghai Cellular Agriculture Company Opens China’s First Cultivated Meat Pilot Factory, Aims for 2025 Launch
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Shanghai-based cellular agriculture company CellX has announced the completion of the first large-scale cultivated meat pilot factory. It follows the firm’s strategic partnership with food manufacturing specialists Tofflon in February when it announced the initial plan to build the facility. CellX says it will apply for regulatory approval in Singapore and the US, with the aim to launch by 2025.
CellX’s pilot plant is named Future Food Factory X (FX) after Fu Xi, an ancient Chinese animal husbandry pioneer. Rising interest in cultured meat has seen 10 pilot plants globally, with only a few having the capacity for a 1,000-litre scale. CellX, which debuted its cell-cultured pork to samplers back in 2021, claims it’s the only Chinese company capable of upscaling cultivated meat production to this level.
The pilot plant uses proprietary cell cultivation technology and operates with fully digitalised intelligent management systems. Calling it China’s first “transparent food space” for cultivated meat, CellX integrates technology research and development, pilot production, and interactive consumer experiences at the new facility. And consumers now have the opportunity to sample delicacies made from its cultivated meat at the plant.
Currently, CellX has screened about 20 immortalised cell lines via a high-throughput automated system – with several having already been successfully adapted to grow in single-cell suspension. This includes what it claims is the world’s first successful single-cell suspension of fish cell lines. FX leverages this self-developed suspension cell line and its low-cost serum-free culture medium, and will be home to multiple 1,000-litre custom-built bioreactors.
“Cultivated meat technology embodies a safe, efficient, and sustainable approach to meat production,” said Shuangshuang Chen, CellX’s head of research and development. “We can craft meat that is both delectable and nutritious, providing consumers with a superior alternative.”
Price parity for cultivated meat
CellX, which has raised over $20M in Series A and A+ funding, says it has a leading level of production costs at well below $100 per pound of cultivated meat. And it expects this price to be cut even further by the time it launches in 2025. While $100 per pound of meat is significant progress for cultured meat, it would need to reach $2.92 to be price-competitive, according to Reuters.
The brand says it will target the high-end market first, with further plans to introduce mass-market products as it continues to scale up and reduce costs in the future. A much lower cost of bioreactors (compared to the US and Europe), combined with government incentives for cultivated meat as part of its 14th five-year plan, will contribute to lowering prices.
China’s one-billion-plus population leads the world in terms of meat consumption, and one survey found that 90% of its citizens are willing to try cultivated alternatives. This signposts the enormous potential for the cultured meat sector in this country, but there are no indications yet about regulatory approval in this country.
So far, only two countries in the world have approved the sale of cell-based meat. Singapore was the first in 2020, while the US became the second earlier this year. CellX co-founder and CEO Ziliang Yang has confirmed the company will file applications for regulatory approval in both nations. The new facility – which Yang has previously called the “cornerstone” of CellX’s journey to scale production – will help its cause tremendously.