Upside Chicken Sandwich - © 2021 Upside Foods

‘Slaughter-Free’ Cell-Cultured Meat Cracks Chicken Challenge

We’ve been so wrapped up in the galloping progress being made by the Plant-Based Protein industry over the past couple of years that we’ve kind of forgotten about the other slaughter-free meat process: cell-cultured real meat…

Upside Chicken Grilled - © 2021 Upside FoodsAn Upside Chicken Breast: Grilled and arranged artfully on a conventional Chef’s Salad…

Well, now there’s some real progress to report in that field, as Memphis Meats (which has recently changed its name to Upside Foods) has announced that it has cracked the Chicken Challenge, perfecting a process to lab-grow real Chicken meat from real Chicken cells without harming any real animals.

Upside says its product even looks passably like the conventionally-raised chicken we’re used to. They’re so confident in their progress that they’re projecting an official unveiling of their cultured chicken products by the end of this year.

Many advantages

Upside notes that its product is, “cultivated in a clean facility from cell to harvest.” The company is also working with the USDA and FDA to ensure that production quality standards are met.

Thanks to the ‘cloning’ method Upside is using to grow its meat, consistency in all aspects of flavour, appearance and other characteristics of its product is automatically maintained.

And the Upside Chicken-growing process is claimed to be inherently sustainable from an agricultural standpoint, although the company has released no estimates of the carbon footprint the process makes. Nevertheless, without the need for farms, slaughter houses, feed supplies, waste disposal and other aspects of conventional chicken raising, one can easily see how the overall impact on the environment is greatly reduced.

Some drawbacks

As always, there remain drawbacks with the new Upside cultured chicken. No mention is made in early news releases about the projected retail price of the product. But, if the experience of the past with other lab-cultured meats is an indicator, Upside Chicken will certainly start out costing considerably more than conventionally-raised chicken.

Until the price to consumers of Upside Chicken drops to that of conventional chicken (or lower, preferably) it won’t catch on with restos, consumers or commercial food service establishments. The good (?) news here is, the price of conventionally raised meats is rising weekly, bit by bit. So Upside won’t have to make the whole effort to equalize prices. The bad news is, prices for real meat will almost certainly stabilize at a level somewhat higher than they are at now.

My question: How will the ultimate prices of cultured meats compare with those of their Plant Protein competitors? I think that will determine which side wins the popularity war and becomes the de-facto standard for ‘meat’ in the future.

~ Maggie J.