Cellular Agriculture: The Products Leading a Revolution

This article was originally published in February 2018. Last updated in May 2019

From the first cultured hamburger in 2013, cellular agriculture (‘cell ag’) will soon be available at a store near you! Cell ag refers to the field of growing animal products from cells instead of raising animals for them, and quite a few cellular agriculture companies are working to get their first products to market. While some actors and companies, like Dr. Mark Post of Mosa Meat, believe that cultured meat will be on the market at the earliest by 2021, others are working to get to market faster. This article will highlight some of the upcoming products in each sector and when to expect them!

Bolt Threads' Silk Ties, Toques, and Leather Bags

Bolt Threads is a clothing startup that uses animal-free spider silk to make clothes. By using yeast to produce spider silk. Bolt Threads has already released a few products in limited amounts. In early 2017, Bolt Threads made the first spider silk necktie and sold 50 of them for $314 each. In December 2017, Bolt Threads partnered with the Best Made Company to make toques and released a limited amount of Bolt Threads x Best Made Caps of Courage.

In 2018, Bolt Threads announced its latest product line: Mylo. Unlike their other products, Mylo is not made from spider silk. It’s leather, made from mushrooms. Licensing the technology from Ecovative Design, Mylo is a leather material produced from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. In September 2018 , Bolt Threads announced the first commercial product from the Mylo line: The Driver Bag. Each bag is cut and sewn by hand in partnership with Chester Wallace, a bag company in Portland, Oregon.

Would you wear a tie made from Bolt Threads’ spider silk?

Geltor's Collagen

Geltor is a startup that uses cell ag to create animal-free gelatin by using yeast to produce the protein collagen. Collagen is the main component of gelatin and is used in a range of other products, such as cosmetics. In May 2018 , Geltor won the CEW’s Award for Innovation for 2018 for their first cosmetic product: N-Collage, a collagen skincare product. It’s great to see that Geltor’s innovative work for a sustainable source of collagen has earned them recognition in the cosmetic world.

Wild Earth's Dog Treats

Wild Earth is the first pet food startup to use cellular agriculture to produce sustainable pet food. As of October 2018 , you can order their first product from their website : koji-based dog treats! Koji is a breed of fungi that is found in miso soup and soy sauce. By using koji, Wild Earth addresses the problem of “low-quality of protein” found in pet foods. Wild Earth first began limited releases of their koji-based dog treats in July 2018. They plan to release their first dog pet food later in 2019.

Just Meat

Not everyone is waiting until 2021 to release cell-cultured meat. Just ambitiously wants to be the first company to have their product on the market. In 2017, Josh Tetrick of Just (formerly Hampton Creek) announced that Just will release their first cell-based meat product by the end of 2018!

Spoiler: they didn't. Just now aims to have their first product released in 2019. Let’s see what they can deliver this year.

 

Bioleather

Modern Meadow is a company that uses cellular agriculture to grow animal-free leather to make clothes and other leather goods. Unlike conventional leather, Modern Meadow’s ‘bioleather’ is in liquid form (essentially, a liquid leather) that can be molded into different shapes and sizes. Modern Meadow created a prototype t-shirt for its brand Zoa and displayed it at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and hope to have their first finished products released by 2019. It’s expected that high-end brands will be the first designers to incorporate their sustainable leather into production.

Finless Foods and Bluefin Tuna

Finless Foods is the first company to use cellular agriculture to grow fish meat from cell cultures. Finless Foods plans to release a limited amount of its Bluefin tuna by the end of 2019. Bluefin tuna is a type of fish that has been overfished for so long that one Bluefin tuna usually costs over $100,000 in Japan. Once production is scaled, Finless Foods can expand into producing cell-based meat of other fish species also under threat from overfishing.

Animal-Free Dairy Milk

Perfect Day make cow-free dairy milk via acellular agriculture. Instead of rushing into the milk aisle, Perfect Day initially plans to sell their product to other businesses. In November 2018 , Perfect Day announced a partnership with food ingredients company Archer Daniels Midland to scale production. Perfect Day cofounder and CEO Ryan Pandya also shared that their first product will an animal-free whey protein, which will be ready as early as this year.

In July 2019, Perfect Day made history and became the first company to launch a cell ag food product. Perfect Day showcased and launched the first ever animal-free dairy ice cream. Without requiring animals.

Within hours, their limited release was sold out. With the release of their ice cream, Perfect Day became the first cellular agriculture company to release a food product to market. As one of the first companies in the field, it seems fitting that their product is one of the first to be sampled.

Chicken-Free Egg White

Similar to Perfect Day, Clara Foods uses acellular agriculture to produce chicken-free egg white. Clara Foods plan to sell their product to other businesses to use as an ingredient. With large corporations like McDonalds, Nestle, and Walmart committing to ‘cage-free eggs’ in the next 5 to 10 years, it is possible that scaled production of cell ag egg whites could provide a way of doing that.

Looking to the Future

Beyond these companies and products, there are other companies that plan to have their own cell ag products released later on. Beyond any regulatory issues and other obstacles, one of the main hurdles ahead for cellular agriculture is scaling production to be commercially viable. Once that is developed, we are likely to see more cell ag products in the near future!

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