Israeli startup Future Meat Technologies announced Thursday that it was building the world’s first cultured meat pilot production facility outside of Tel Aviv.
The company is a Jerusalem-based biotechnology firm that seeks to create cultured meat directly from animal cells through the production of fat and muscle cells, the core building blocks of meat, in a cost-effective manner.
The new facility will be located south of Tel Aviv and is expected to begin operating in 2020.
All cultured meat has until now been produced in labs at a small scale, but the new plant will turn out much larger quantities, the company said.
“With this investment, we’re thrilled to bring cultured meat from the lab to the factory floor and begin working with our industrial partners to bring our product to market,” said Future Meat technologies CEO Rom Kshuk in a statement. “We’re not only developing a global network of investors and advisors with expertise across the meat and ingredient supply chains, but also providing the company with sufficient runway to achieve commercially viable production costs within the next two years.”
The move was made possible after the company raised $14 million in funding from Chicago’s S2G Ventures, which helped finance Beyond Meat’s IPO, and Switzerland’s Emerald Technology Ventures.
The funding will also be used to expand the company’s research and development operations. It is planning on producing hybrid products at the production facility that mix plant proteins and cultured animal fats, and aims to decrease the cost of a pound of its cultured meat to less than $10 by 2022.
The company’s technology was pioneered by Hebrew University’s Prof. Yaakov Nahmias.
Last year, Tyson Foods, Inc., one of the world’s largest food producers, led a $2.2 million seed investment round for Future Meat Technologies through its venture capital arm, Tyson Ventures.
Tyson’s investment in Future Meat marked a push to explore new ways of producing protein, Justin Whitmore, executive vice president, Corporate Strategy, and chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods, said in a statement at the time.
“This is our first investment in an Israel-based company,” he said. “We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices.”
The company grows animal cells in bioreactors and says its end product is indistinguishable from animal meat. The cells do not undergo genetic modifications and can multiply indefinitely, the company says. Its process is more environmentally friendly than farming, producing 80 percent fewer greenhouse emissions, using 99% less land and 96% less freshwater, according to the company’s website.