The future of meat may be its mass production in laboratories rather than on farms, ranches and slaughterhouses, Chase Purdy tells David Marcus in the latest episode of the Drinks With The Deal podcast.
In his new book “Billion Dollar Burger: Inside Big Tech’s Race for the Future of Food,” Purdy tells the story of the race to make cell-cultured meat at a commercially viable scale, an effort that has attracted millions of dollars of venture capital financing in the hope that it will capture even a small percentage of the $750 billion spent annually on meat.
Purdy offers a case study of contemporary VC with its scientists and self-promoters, its angel investors and companies looking for new technologies as he tells the story of a sector attractive both to vegan activists and companies such as Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN). The activists see “a way to use capitalism’s tools to advance their goals” by becoming entrepreneurs and building cell-cultured meat companies, while Tyson sees a chance to offer consumers one more form of protein they might want.
Companies such as Just Inc., a unicorn because of its production of vegan forms of eggs, mayonnaise and cookie dough, face regulatory challenges at least as hard to solve as producing meat in a lab cheaply, Purdy says, a hurdle that many startups don’t face. But he believes the significant consumer curiosity about cell-cultured meat gives it a real chance to sit on supermarket shelves and appear on restaurant menus along with traditional forms of meat.