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From Hunters to Scientists How Deep Innovation is Revolutionizing the Meat Industry

从猎人转变为科学家 Since prehistoric times, meat has been a staple in mankind’s diet. Just as a successful hunt was a reason for a celebratory feast, a festive dinner these days demands a meat “centerpiece.” But the surge in meat consumption paired with a growing world population has led to an increasing demand for animal protein. According to projections, the world population in 2050 is expected to be 9.7 billion, and the current meat industry, that grows crops to feed animals (animal agriculture), will not be able to produce sufficient quantities.

In addition to being ill-equipped to meet the growing demand, the meat industry is neither efficient nor sustainable. According to the Stanford Environmental Law Journal, a myriad of global problems are attributed to animal agriculture: climate change, deforestation, public health issues, food safety, and animal abuse, just to name a few.

There is no question that meat consumption needs to be reduced, and that safe and efficient alternatives to animal agriculture must be explored and implemented. Similarly to other sectors, such as the water and pharmaceutical industry, the food sector is also using Deep Innovation to revolutionize the trade. CIV has dedicated a research strand to Deep Innovation, which we define as inventions that are enabled by basic research or a scientific breakthrough. Such inventions require years and substantial resources to achieve results and have the potential to transform these fields of trade. In the Coller Venture’s Review article Deep Innovations in Food Ventures, Niccolo Manzoni presents several companies that are reinventing the way we think about food, through innovative technology.

Along with a myriad of deep innovations being done in the food domain, meat is receiving significant attention. In the 23-Nov-2016 podcast “Old food, New Tech – Clean Meat,” a discussion was held about variations of meat, such as meatless (plant based) meat, and cell cultured meat. Memphis Meats, which grows meat from animal cells, says that since the world is not going to become vegetarian, they are creating a safe and sustainable approach that results in a product that is virtually indistinguishable from real meat. Impossible Foods, which uses plant products to create “meat”, says that their research has resulted in a product that cooks, tastes and looks like meat. Both companies address the devastation caused by the meat industry and have developed products that require fewer resources and stages of production.

It is clear to these companies that it is not idealism that will drive consumers away from animal agriculture, but rather taste. Ultimately, it is not the environmentalists and vegetarians that will make the difference, but meat lovers. And through Deep Innovation, they will have a delicious option of superior quality without having to sacrifice the meat eating experience; which is so cultivated in society. As the world transitions to clean meats, and slaughterhouses are replaced with science and technology, it is likely that the conventional meat industry and food production of today will be unimaginable and obsolete within a decade.


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