Jul 6, 2017 | By Tess

Hampton Creek, a plant-based food startup headquartered in San Francisco, recently announced that it will be moving into the lab-grown meat industry, and plans to have its clean meat products on shelves as soon as 2018. According to Spanish tech site ABC.es, Hampton Creek is considering using 3D printing to realize this goal.

Since its founding in 2011 by Josh Balk and Joshua Tetrick (the company’s current CEO), Hampton Creek has gained a lot of attention for its plant-based food products—both good and bad.

On the good side, the company has been recognized as a unicorn startup and has done impressively well financially with its animal-product-free foods, perhaps most notably its vegan mayo, Just Mayo. On the bad side, Hampton Creek has incited some controversy for accusations of misleading or stretched truths on product labelings, and having products pulled from shelves at Target—an ongoing issue.

Still, the ambitious company is expanding its products and hoping to impact the global food market in a significant way by reducing our reliance on animal-based products. After all, with an ever growing global population and dwindling resources, having more sustainable foods is becoming increasingly crucial.

Most recently, the company announced it would be developing lab-grown meats, entering into competition with a select few companies who are also hoping to offer clean meat first. (One of the main players in the clean meat industry is Memphis Meats, which says it plans to bring its products to market by 2021.)

Hampton Creek, if you remember, said it can get its products out by 2018—way before any of its competitors. But if you’re skeptical, you’re not alone.

The San Francisco-based company does have some believers: Bruce Friedlich, from the Good Food Institute (GFI), a food technology nonprofit that has collaborated with Hampton creek, believes the company is prepared to deliver on its promises.

“It's an ambitious goal for sure, but yes, with the right resources, it should be achievable," he said. ”Hampton Creek has gone beyond expectation with everything it has set out to do—it went from founding to unicorn status in about five years. Joshua Tetrick appears to be committed to moving fast and breaking things.”

How will the company be producing its lab-grown meat? Tetrick explained the process broadly in a recent post on LinkedIn, saying that his company is exploring how to scale up clean meat by using plant-based nutrients to help animal cells grow in a clean facility.

“Meat and seafood are primarily a combination of muscle and fat cells,” he explained. “They require nutrients to grow, whether inside an animal or in a clean facility. And the main limiting factor in scaling clean meat has been providing cells with a sustainable and economical source of nutrients required for cell growth.”

To overcome this challenge, he says Hampton Creek has applied the same methodology of discovery it has used for its existing plant-based products, which involves material isolation, assays, and discovery output. “With plants providing nutrients for animal cells to grow, we believe we can produce meat and seafood that is over 10x more efficient than the world’s highest volume slaughterhouse (a 1,000,000-square foot facility in Tar Heel, N.C.),” he added.

ABC Tecnología reported that once the meat is grown, a 3D bioprinting process can be used to print the cells in a particular shape or structure. Tetrick also mentioned that the company was investigating biocompatible scaffolds.

While we do believe that lab-grown meat will be a viable alternative to animal-based products in the future, we are curious to see whether Hampton Creek can deliver on its 2018 goal.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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