The founder of Memphis Meats cuts a piece from his chicken cutlet, sniffs it, takes a bite, and slowly chews it, relishing the taste.  

What Uma Valeti just ate was not the usual piece of poultry. Valeti’s team harvested the meat from a lab that extracted cells of a chicken. The lab fed the chicken cells until they grew into raw meat.

Memphis Meats, a California-based start-up, is among the rising number of start-ups in the world that are using cultured cells to produce raw meat. These companies aim to provide an alternative way of meat production that doesn’t harm the animals and the environment.

Valeti, who once worked as a cardiologist before starting Memphis Meats in 2015 after discovering the ability of stem cells to treat diseases, said that people will continue to eat meat for years to come and will do so without causing unnecessary harm to the planet.

Memphis Meats, who has likewise produced beef and duck from its lab, has attracted investors including Cargill and Tyson Foods and magnates Bill Gates and Richard Branson.

In June, A.T Kearney consulting firm released a report that predicted that by 2040, the lab meats would make up 35% of the meat consumed globally. Meanwhile, plant-based substitutes will comprise 25%.

The report further states that it will not take long before these meat production alternatives gain a market share, especially that the large-scale traditional poultries are facing backlash nowadays due to environmental and health concerns.

However, there are some challenges that these lab meat producers must overcome, including lowering the cost of its production and convincing people that it’s safe and tasty.

Jayden Hanson of the Centre for Food Safety, a non-profit organization, advocates of food safety will be closely monitoring these start-ups to ensure that their products do not put consumers’ health in more significant hazard.  

Valeti plans to open their kitchen lab to invite people to see their process of meat production. Memphis Meats is currently focusing on how to reduce the cost of lab meat production. The start-up intends to launch its lab meats in the market in two years after it gains a nod from the FDA and USDA.