Synthetic or 3D printed meat: the revolution that can save the planet

6-07-2020 | News

Over the next 20 years the meat consumption will undergo a radical change: the 60% of the products we call "meat" will no longer come from slaughter, but will consist of food 100% veg, with a taste similar to meat, or by others derived from the cloning of a few animal cells. It already revealed it a year ago an article in the British newspaper The Guardian, referring to a report released by the consultancy company AT Kearney.

This change could trigger some positive consequences: in fact the heavy impacts on the environment, the high use of resources, the low conversion rate and the poor welfare of the animals are known in the era of intensive industrialized breeding and an increase in the world population.

Consumption of fake meat is growing in the Covid emergency

There fake meat (or non-meat) is already conquering everyone, from carnivores to vegans, and promises to revolutionize the future of food. Moreover, in these months of Covid-19 emergency its consumption has surged, making it mark in the United States a + 264% of sales. This is because, in general, the "real" meat industry has a very long and not very automated production chain: instead, the synthetic meat industry, making extensive use of technology and requiring few staff, is more easily implemented even in the social distancing.

In any case, the fake-meat market can count on extraordinary growth prospects, with a turnover that according to several analysts could rise in the US from $ 670 million from 2018 until to about 35 billion, taking a slice of about the 15% of the market some meat. In the industry there are several promising companies like Tofurky, Incredible Foods is Impossible Foods: the latter has already brought its artificial meat on the trays of the European Burger King.

The so-called non-meat is not a vegan product or a common substitute: it is exactly the same as a meat, but it is not produced from an animal cut. The secret is in its composition. The researchers of Beyond Meat, company born in Los Angeles in 2009, have managed to isolate the so-called from animal protein eme, a chemical complex that returns the taste of iron and therefore of meat to the blood. This heme is also contained in the roots of some plants, such as peas and soybeans.

Beyond Meat is the heme secret

Thus, by increasing heme production in the laboratory, Beyond Meat scientists have developed a fake meat made only with water, yellow pea protein, coconut oil and beetroot juice, which gives it a reddish color. Impossible Foods' meat is also made from wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and heme. His nutritional values they are very similar, but with some differences that consist in the total absence of cholesterol and hydrogenated fats and in the presence of fiber and more sodium. Furthermore, compared to real meat, in the production process there is a saving of 99% of water, 93% of energy and 90% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Beyond Meat was the protagonist of a real boom on his day debut on Wall Street in May 2019. On the first day of trading on the Nasdaq technological index, the "Bynd" share closed with a rise of 163%. For the happiness of some famous shareholders, among them the actor Leonardo Di Caprio and Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.

Novameat: meat grown and printed in Barcelona

Another revolution that could affect the way we eat is that of 3D printed meat, a type of synthetic but not artificial meat. In this case, production can start either from plant materials or from animal cells grown in the laboratory. It is the field in which it operates Novameat, a startup based in Barcelona founded by the Italian biomedical engineer Giuseppe Scionti which recently obtained investment funds from New Crop Capital to continue research into alternative proteins.

Here too the advantages are not lacking and always concern the lower environmental impact, thanks to the reduction of CO2 production and to the reduction of the consumption of water and grazing land necessary for the animals. In addition to the health benefits: in plant products, in fact, there are no cholesterol and pathogens usually contained in the meat.

Andrea Fasulo

Share this content on: