Ashton Kutcher-led group invests in Israeli maker of lab-grown meat

Actor hails MeaTech as ‘the leader in industrial scale production of cultured meat,’ doesn’t disclose size of investment

Actor Ashton Kutcher at a media event hosted by AT&T, on July 14, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Actor Ashton Kutcher at a media event hosted by AT&T, on July 14, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A group led by actor Ashton Kutcher will invest in an Israeli maker of lab-grown, 3D-printed meat products, the company announced on Thursday.

MeaTech 3D Ltd. said that the investment team also includes Israel-born talent manager Guy Oseary, who has been involved with Kutcher in numerous start-ups and investment funds. A press release announcing the deal did not disclose details of the investment.

“We are delighted to partner with MeaTech and assist it in its journey to become the market leader in cultured meat production,” Kutcher was quoted as saying. “We are excited about MeaTech’s innovative technologies, which we believe position MeaTech to be the leader in industrial-scale production of cultured meat, a key for a more sustainable and clean meat production.”

He added that the investment was “in line with our group’s mission to provide sustainable solutions… across various sustainability domains.”

MeaTech — which is listed on Nasdaq — is one of several Israeli companies developing alternative meat, and Kutcher’s investment came two weeks after it was announced that Leonardo DiCaprio invested an undisclosed amount in Aleph Farms, a start-up making cultivated meat.

In an interview this July with The Times of Israel, MeaTech’s head of business development insisted that despite no killing of animals involved in production, the final product is “identical” in properties to that of animal flesh.

MeaTech’s plan is to eventually print beef, poultry, pork, and fish products, as well as chicken and goose fat, according to the company.

An illustration of MeaTech’s factory of the future, to create meat grown from animal cells in bio-reactors. (MeaTech)

Growing cows for meat has been found to have one of the largest negative impacts on the global environment, and reducing meat consumption is necessary to cut gas emissions and avoid climate change, according to a study in the journal Nature.

Some 56 billion animals — cows, lamb and poultry — are slaughtered every year to feed the world, where consumption of meat is set to grow 70% by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as middle classes in Asia and Africa increasingly become carnivorous.

Israel plays a “substantial role” in the alternative proteins global market and is considered a pioneer in the field, with Israeli startups raising a record amount of money from investors in 2020, said a report by The Good Food Institute Israel, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote research and innovation in the field.

In July, Aleph Farms got a $105 million investment to bring lab-grown steaks to market. Future Meat Technologies, which also makes meat from animal cells, completed a $27 million funding round in February.

The cultivated meat sector is poised to thrive in coming years when companies transition from development stage to production, the report said.

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