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Cultivated meat promises sustainable, ethical future, says Ivy Farm CEO

Article-Cultivated meat promises sustainable, ethical future, says Ivy Farm CEO

© Ivy Farm Ivy Farm pic RS.jpg
Novel meat growing technology could help to significantly reduce the environmental impact of industrial agriculture. UK-based Ivy Farm’s cultivated meat, which is free from antibiotics, high in protein, and low in saturated fat, also meets consumer demand for healthy, sustainable, and ethical products. 

Ivy Farm believes that its cultivated beef products can help to overcome many of the environmental and ethical problems associated with industrial farming. For example, CEO Rich Dillon says that cultivated meat products can lead to reductions in carbon emissions of up to 92%, land use of up to 94%, and require 76% less water when compared to traditional animal agriculture.

“We were founded in 2019 with a mission to grow the best quality real meat, and to address some of these issues surrounding industrial agriculture,” he explains. Research also suggests that the cultivated meat sector could create almost 16,500 jobs, including 8,300 highly skilled jobs, over the next decade. We expect this impact to be similar within every market that cultivated meat is developed in.”

Applying cutting edge technology 

The innovative technology was developed at the University of Oxford. We also have one of the largest cultivated meat pilot plant facilities in Europe,” Dillon adds. “This was built largely from upcycled equipment that we’ve replenished, in order to further minimise the impact our operations have on the environment.” 

Dillon likens the process to cultivating a plant from a small sample. “We extract a tiny cell sample from a farm-raised animal (approximately 1cm in size), then nourish the cells with the required nutrients for growth,” he explains. 

“In just three weeks, this yields delectable premium meat. It provides consumers with essential amino acids, iron, and protein, but without any antibiotics that can sometimes be found in traditional meat.” 

Ivy Farm recently partnered with Dennis Group, a prominent global design-build firm specialising in food processing facilities.  This will see the company develop a cutting-edge manufacturing facility, capable of producing 12,000 tonnes of cultivated meat annually.

Bringing innovations to market 

The company is currently in discussions with manufacturers and supermarkets about exploiting this potential. “The response has been hugely positive,” says Dillon. “I think these companies appreciate the massive commercial and environmental potential the cultivated meat industry has, and by licensing our industry-leading technology, will be able to reap the benefits.” 

A letter of intent with Finnebrogue, one of the UK's leading artisan meat producers based in Northern Ireland, has been signed. The aim is to create one of the world’s first commercially available cultivated Wagyu beef burgers. “This will enable Finnebrogue to meet growing demand for its Wagyu products, creating tonnes of delicious meat with a smaller carbon footprint,” says Dillon.

The company is also actively seeking additional investment in their next funding round, to supplement the $40 million that has been secured so far. Significant progress has also been made in obtaining regulatory approvals across various regions including the UK, US, and Singapore.

“A key challenge is regulation,” says Dillon. “We’ve spent more than a year speaking with UK governing bodies like the FSA, to help shape and develop regulations around cultivated meat. While we’re hopeful that cultivated meat will be available in our home country soon, we’re eager to make an impact as soon as possible, which means we’ve made plans to launch in more friendly regulatory environments. These include the US and Singapore, where consumers are now able to buy and eat cultivated meat.”

Once regulatory approval has been granted, Ivy Farm intends to sell its innovations to established food manufacturers, enabling it to create a wide range of products such as meatballs, burgers, and sausages. 

Gaining recognition, connecting with manufacturers

Ivy Farm was recognised for its pioneering innovations Fi Europe 2023 when it was a finalist in the Most Innovative Processing Technology or Technology Platform category of the Startup Innovation Challenge

“We’re at a pivotal stage in our growth journey,” says Dillon. “Competing in the Challenge, presenting our solution to the judging panel and, more broadly, the investors and F&B companies that make up the Fi Europe audience, was a fantastic opportunity to generate brand awareness and build credibility.”

Dillon also saw Fi Europe as a useful means of connecting and exchanging insights with prospective investors and other F&B companies. “This was possible whether you’re pitching and fielding questions onstage or networking over a coffee,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to getting the opportunity to do this again at this year’s event.”