Meatly’s Protein-Free Culture Medium Dramatically Cuts the Production Cost of Cultivated Meat

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British cultivated meat company Meatly has created a first-of-its-kind protein-free culture medium that can significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing these proteins.

Ahead of its impending regulatory approval in the UK, Meatly has announced the development of a culture medium that can bring down the cost of producing cultivated meat, solving one of the industry’s major bottlenecks.

Culture media are essential to the production of cultivated meat, entailing a mix of nutrients to facilitate the growth of animal cells. According to Meatly, this accounts for the majority of the costs involved in the entire process, reducing which is key to reaching price parity with conventional meat.

Typically, culture media cost hundreds of pounds per litre, but Meatly’s protein-free version brings that down to just £1 ($1.25) – a fraction of what companies currently pay. Co-founder and chief scientific officer Helder Cruz called it a “huge step forward” in scaling the startup’s technology and commercialising its products at an affordable price.

Our protein-free culture medium represents a critical milestone for us and the wider cultivated meat industry,” he said. “By setting this new benchmark, we are driving the cost of production down significantly, which is something the industry has been grappling with for years.”

Slashing the most significant costs by 100-fold

omni feast chicken revolution
Courtesy: Meatly/Omni

The new cell culture medium created by Meatly contains no serum or animal-derived components, steroids, hormones, antibiotics or growth factors – the latter is responsible for the bulk of the costs associated with culture media. The startup’s innovation is food-safe and used in its suspension culture bioreactors without microcarriers, which are typically needed to help cells proliferate and enhance their density.

The fact that there are no microcarriers, growth factors or expensive proteins means industrial-scale production could be economically viable, and purchasing higher volumes of the culture medium would only bring down prices further.

The cost of producing cultivated meat is one of the industry’s most pressing challenges. But researchers have pinpointed cell culture media design as the most significant hurdle facing the commercialisation of these proteins, given that optimising media for a specific culture system requires tons of effort and investment.

One estimate has suggested that cultivated meat needs to reach production costs of $2.92 per lb to be on par with conventional meat. And while companies have managed to reduce costs by 99% in less than a decade, McKinsey forecasts that it will still take until 2030 for it to reach price parity.

Meatly’s breakthrough could speed that projection up considerably. “Meatly has single-handedly slashed those costs a hundredfold or more,” said Jim Mellon, founder of Agronomics, an investor in the startup. He noted that the development establishes the company as a “true technological leader” in the field. “This is a huge step forward in bringing the cost of cultivated meat to price parity with conventional meat and, ultimately, toward the mass adoption of cultivated products.”

Meatly gears up for UK cultivated meat debut

meatly cultivated meat
Courtesy: Harriet Constable/Meatly

The development of the cell culture media comes two months after Meatly completed the first production run of its canned chicken pâté for pets, which combined cultivated chicken with pulses and vegetables from British vegan dog food company Omni.

Previously called Good Dog Food, the London-based startup rebranded in late 2023 ahead of a planned market launch this year, which would make it the first company to commercialise cultivated meat in Europe. Meatly indicated in February that it was expecting regulatory approval from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) within “the next three months”.

“The company expects to shortly receive regulatory approval, and I am excited to feed their delicious products to my dogs,” said Mellon. The FSA has kickstarted a process to accelerate the market entry of novel foods in the UK, after finally breaking away from the pre-Brexit laws it inherited from the EU.

It would be a major milestone in the cultivated meat sector, built upon a relatively minor level of investment – Meatly has raised £3.6M since being founded in 2022, much lower than many of its counterparts across the world. According to the startup, that proves “there is a fast and cost-effective way to scale cultivated meat”. The 150g Omni Feast: Chicken Revolution cans will cost about £1 each.

Meatly has secured “key partnerships with manufacturers”, including with petcare retailer (and seed investor) Pets at Home, ahead of its market entry. “We need cultivated meat now more than ever. Pet food is the natural starting point, given consumers’ excitement,” Meatly co-founder and CEO Owen Ensor previously said. “We’re thrilled to be at the heart of the future of meat production in the UK.”


  • Anay Mridul

    Anay is Green Queen's resident news reporter. Originally from India, he worked as a vegan food writer and editor in London, and is now travelling and reporting from across Asia. He's passionate about coffee, plant-based milk, cooking, eating, veganism, food tech, writing about all that, profiling people, and the Oxford comma.

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