Cultivated meat startup Aleph Farms Ltd. is seeking regulatory approval to sell its beefsteak in the UK, as it looks to scale up its business growing sustainable protein products.
(Bloomberg) — Cultivated meat startup Aleph Farms Ltd. is seeking regulatory approval to sell its beefsteak in the UK, as it looks to scale up its business growing sustainable protein products.
Grown from animal cells in bioreactors, cultivated meat is seen as a cruelty-free and environmentally-friendlier alternative to livestock products. That’s attracting industry giants, venture capital investors and chefs, while some governments also view it as a way to strengthen food security.
But 10 years after the world’s first cultivated meat burger was put on the grill, scaling up and obtaining regulatory approvals are key challenges for the sector. Aleph made an application with the Food Standards Agency on July 21, just after submitting one in Switzerland, the first such filing in Europe.
“The strategy is to file in the UK and Switzerland which are interesting markets,” Aleph Chief Executive Officer Didier Toubia said in an interview. “We believe the UK will take a couple of years, but the potential is huge.”
The UK is reviewing the way it authorizes novel foods after formally parting ways with the European Union, where the regulatory process can be seen as opaque and complicated. However, it still relies on the European regulatory framework.
Israel-based Aleph, backed by investors including L Catterton, DisruptAD and Cargill Inc., plans to start production in the UK in the next few years and is in talks with potential commercial partners, Toubia said.
Cultivated meat startups have generally looked to Singapore and the US as the first markets for their products. Cell-based chicken has been available for sale in Singapore since December 2020 and the US approved the first sales in June.
So far, no cultivated meat company has lodged an application in the EU, according to the European Food Safety Authority, the bloc’s watchdog.
“The EU must develop a coherent strategy to support the sustainable protein sector and ensure regulatory processes are clear, in order to reap the benefits of cultivated meat,” said Seth Roberts, policy manager at the Good Food Institute Europe, which represents the alternative protein industry.
–With assistance from Thomas Hall.
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