"People need protein, and many like to consume it in the form of a tasty piece of meat," says Krijn de Nood. "At the same time, there are limits to how much meat we can produce. The world population is growing to ten billion people and there is not enough space nor water to produce meat for that number of people. Moreover, doing so would increase greenhouse gas emissions unacceptably." That is why startup Meatable is working hard to develop meat based on stem cells. The company has developed a process to mimic the natural process of growing fat and muscle cells. "This allows us to make meat without compromise. The ultimate result is real meat: with the same taste, texture and nutritional value as traditional meat. It's exactly the same,'' De Nood adds. Underlying this achievement is groundbreaking scientific research.
Affordable growth medium
You can't feed billions of people with a small amount of cultured meat from a lab. That's why Meatable wants to scale up. DSM in Delft is an ideal partner to achieve that. "DSM has the necessary knowledge to leap from the lab to the market," says De Nood. Wim Klop confirms this: "Our researchers have vast knowledge of what is called 'the protein transition'. That is the shift from traditional animal proteins to plant-based and novel protein sources. Moreover, we have a lot of experience in furthering innovations from the scientific breakthrough to the creation of a market-ready product on an industrial scale. We also have the necessary facilities for that." The first challenge for Meatable is to develop an affordable growth medium. This is the food for the cells; a liquid containing carbohydrates, salts, vitamins and other essential ingredients. This purely vegetable liquid largely determines the price of cultivated meat. Klop: "The cost price for producing growth medium is still far too high to attain an acceptable consumer price for cultivated meat. Together with Meatable, we are working on a breakthrough to produce growth medium at acceptable costs."
Meanwhile, the partners are scaling up from laboratory to production facility. The first ’pork sausage' was already presented in 2020, but it is expected to take until 2025 before the meat will actually be on the shelves. "Big changes take time, but then things suddenly go fast," Wim Klop knows. "Look at electric vehicles, these also needed an extended lead time. We are convinced that the protein transition will take place. The Netherlands is a leader in agriculture and livestock. The DSM locations in Delft and Wageningen can contribute significantly to making these sectors more sustainable. The development of cultured meat is part of this. We are proud to have found such a good partner for this at our own Biotech Campus Delft - a crucial location for our innovation strategy." De Nood concludes: "The Biotech Campus Delft is developing into a very special place, where startups, scale-ups and established companies find each other. Together we are building a flywheel for innovation in biotechnology."
Photo front page: Meatable co-founders CTO Daan Luining and CEO Krijn de Nood