Recently one of Europe’s largest poultry producers PHW-Gruppe from Germany formed a strategic partnership with the Israeli clean meat start-up company SuperMeat. Their plan is to produce chicken meat, without growing and slaughtering birds.
Simply said, the companies want to extract stem cells from live birds and produce clean meat by growing the cells in ideal lab conditions, forming high-quality chicken cuts. Peter Wesjohann, PHW-Gruppe’s chief executive officer says: “We at PHW have time and again left the beaten path in conducting our business.”
“This approach not only facilitates the development of best-in-class animal welfare concepts in our core poultry business, but will also lead to the strengthening of our vegan product portfolio, confirming our leading role in the global consumer trend towards a cleaner, more protein-rich diet.” And let there be no misunderstanding, this can be done, technically and at a competing price level in the near future.
A partnership like this is a real revolution in the poultry industry, however, producing cultured meat isn’t. Of course recent developments in this field have promising results, hence the partnership. But the idea is not new. It was the great statesman Winston Churchill who stated in 1936: “50 years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” However in the previous century there was no good alternative, with cultured meat being spongy and artificial looking. We have gone beyond this, in the meantime cultured meat has been surpassed by non-meat alternatives.
The real revolution that could influence the future of poultry meat production is the creation of plant based meat substitutes. And we are not talking about the good old tofu. Recent developments in the art of structuring plant proteins have led to a meat substitute that is as good or even better than real meat. Challenges in taste, texture, bite, food experience and nutritional value have all been tackled.
On top of that it has the added value of being 100% plant based. For those producers it is just the challenge of convincing the consumer to move away from meat, their product then does the rest.