Exploring cultivated meat

Only recently it was a futuristic dream—but today, cultivated meat is a product consumers are just beginning to taste. The next step is scaling a global industry.

In the near future, could diners around the world really dig into authentic chops, burgers, and fillets that don’t come from animals? The cultivated-meat industry is already creating meat grown in production facilities where animals are barely part of the process. To explore this cutting-edge food category, two industry pioneers and two McKinsey experts explain what cultivated meat is and how it differs from plant-based meat, when consumers worldwide will be able to try it, and how it could grow to become a global industry. For a deeper dive into where cultivated meat is headed, explore McKinsey’s research on the topic.

Cultivated meat is still mostly in the pilot stage, but it has the potential to grow into a global industry. Costs need to come down, production needs to increase, and technological breakthroughs that improve the taste and texture of products need to continue. McKinsey partner Joshua Katz explains which industries can play a role in growing cultivated meat into a market that could potentially provide a half of a percent of the world’s protein by 2030.

In a 2021 video interview, Josh Tetrick, cofounder and CEO of the cultivated-meat company Eat Just, talks about how radical innovations eventually come to seem normal, and how that can apply to the future of meat. His company moved the needle for the cultivated-meat industry in December 2020, when Eat Just’s “chicken” was introduced to diners in Singapore—the first country to give regulatory approval for consumer consumption.

In 2022, we spoke with Tetrick again on McKinsey’s entrepreneurship podcast, The Venture. In this far-ranging conversation, he talks about why and how he started the company, which achieved unicorn status on the strength of its plant-based egg product. He also discusses how the company has started chipping away at technological barriers to making cultivated meat a mass-market product.

Cultivated meat is meat; it’s the production process that is different, explains Didier Toubia, the cofounder and CEO of cultivated meat start-up Aleph Farms. The company makes steaks that are designed to look, taste, and cook just like conventional beef steaks. In this video interview, he discusses how his products are made, how they differ from plant-based meat products, and when consumers will be able to try them.

What is cultivated meat? Is it safe and healthy to eat? What are the potential benefits of making these products available to consumers? McKinsey associate partner Tom Brennan explains the basic concept behind cultivated meat, explores what we know about its health profile, and describes why this technology may democratize dining in surprising ways.

McKinsey has looked deeply into the topic of alternative proteins and the future of food. Explore our insights into plant-based meat, the global protein landscape, and agricultural innovation on McKinsey.com.

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