February 21, 2024

On Wednesday, U.S. regulators approved Upside Foods and Good Meat to sell their cultured chicken products domestically, reaching another milestone for alternative proteins.

Known as “cell culture” or “cultured meat,” these proteins are made from animal cells rather than slaughtered animals, and are typically developed using a fermentation process involving bioreactors.

California-based Upside Foods and Good Meat will now be able to serve their food, initially in restaurants. Upside has taken its first restaurant order and will deliver limited supplies to San Francisco’s Bar Crenn, while Good Meat has partnered with a Washington, D.C. restaurant run by chef and owner Jose Ann Operated by José Andrés.

Today’s approval follows the USDA’s approval last week of how the two companies will label their products.

The companies also received USDA inspection authorizations for their engineering, production and innovation center, Upside, as well as the Alameda demonstration plant, Good Meat, and its contract manufacturing partner, JOINN Biologics. The inspection process includes inspection of facilities and equipment; Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures; Systematic approach to identifying, assessing and controlling food safety hazards according to Good Meat.

Before today, Singapore was the only country that allowed the sale of farmed chickens. Good Meat was the first company to be approved to sell its farmed chicken products in the US, having received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration in March, joining Upside Foods as the only two companies to move to the next stage of marketing their products in the US. commercial company

Cultured meat is a complex process that has traditionally been expensive and time-consuming. Consumer taste is also involved. Besides Singapore and the US, some regions, such as the UK, are supporting the industry, while others, such as Italy, are questioning it.

Dozens of companies around the world have followed suit in bringing cultured or cell-cultured meat products to market, and after today’s announcement, we’ll likely see many more companies fast-track their products through the regulatory process. In the U.S., companies must obtain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture before they can commercialize their products in the country.

Despite the challenges, some venture capitalists investing in the space remain confident. Po Bronson, general partner at SOSV/IndieBio, said by email that the new approval is “very good for the cell cultured meat industry.” He explained that many “cell culture products entering the market are hybrid products” and that “as cell culture meat grows, this will shape and change the alternative protein industry, affecting both the aggregaters and the aggregated, and only companies have the real technology Progress is here to stay and be part of a larger supply chain. Needless to say, the days of just buying some pea protein, an extruder, some vegetable oil and some methylcellulose – and hoping to print money – are long gone Not coming back.”

He also noted that the cultured meat industry is shifting and that new startups will have a hard time competing with early-stage companies that have scaled up, saying, “We’re seeing some acquisitions, but not high-value ones. More money is definitely going to Companies that can demonstrate that their technology is significantly different and not imitable or interchangeable. These are the companies to watch.”

Meanwhile, in last week’s TechCrunch+ investor survey, investors specifically discussed companies working with the U.S. government.

Johnny Ream, a partner at Stray Dog Capital and an investor, noted that his firm encourages portfolio companies to engage with regulators early and be transparent in the process.

“Having an open dialogue is critical to identifying possible regulatory risk factors and should inform product development strategies,” Ream said. “Without this engagement, there will be a greater likelihood of significant regulatory hurdles and/or regulator education as companies enter the market.”