- Israeli cell-based meat producer Aleph Farms and biomedical engineering researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology announced they have created the world's first slaughter-free ribeye steak through cell cultivation and 3D bioprinting.
- Aleph Farms' 3D bioprinting technology combines cell cultivation and 3D printing. Living cells are printed into a shape, and are then incubated to grow, interact and differentiate, allowing the cell-based meat to take on more of the characteristics of a conventional steak, according to the company.
- The cell-based meat industry has recently made several technical and regulatory strides that bring it closer to becoming a common product on the marketplace. In December, U.S.-based Eat Just announced it had received regulatory approval in Singapore for cell-based chicken bites to be sold at a restaurant.
Aleph Farms is once again raising the bar for cell-based meat.
In 2018, the company produced the first cell-grown minute steak, claiming to deliver "the full experience of meat with the appearance, shape and texture of beef cuts." In 2019, it partnered with Russia's 3D Bioprinting Solutions to create cell-based beef on the International Space Station, showing that cell-based meat could be a viable food source for long-haul space missions. And in December, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first head of state to try cell-based meat after tasting a steak from Aleph Farms.
A thick cell-based steak with ribbons of fat is yet another first from the company. While other cell-based meat startups may be able to produce similar products in their R&D facilities, Aleph Farms has shared an image of what looks like a conventional steak from a cow — proclaiming that this technology is real and viable. The company said it now has the ability to produce any kind of steak, and it will soon be expanding its product portfolio.
"As we look into the future of 3D bioprinting, the opportunities are endless," Shulamit Levenberg, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Aleph Foods and professor at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said in the press release.
Aleph Farms isn't the only cell-based meat provider that is using 3D bioprinting. Its partner 3D Bioprinting Solutions announced last summer it would be creating 3D printed cell- and plant-based chicken nuggets for Russia's KFC franchises. Meat-Tech 3D, another Israeli company, is also using 3D printing to make cell-based meat, with the goal of supplying other manufacturers. And last month, Spain's Novameat, which had previously been known for 3D printing meat analogues, printed what it called the world's biggest cut of cultivated meat.
Other cell-based meat companies are getting close to having marketable products. Future Meat Technologies, which is also based in Israel, announced last week that it could produce a cell-based chicken breast for $7.50. And although there is no set regulatory framework for cell-based meat in the U.S., many companies say they expect to be able to get products on the market relatively soon. Eat Just, cell-based seafood maker BlueNalu and Memphis Meats say they are close to launching products.
With technology advancing — as well as regulatory approval potentially moving forward and investments from venture capitalists and Big Food — product potential is moving forward. Strategy and management consulting firm Kearney predicted that by 2040, 35% of all meat consumed worldwide will be cell-based. On the heels of the ribeye steak announcement, Aleph Farms Chief Executive Didier Toubia told The Washington Post that the company is planning for its products to be on the market in the second half of 2022.