Cultivated meat, compared with conventional beef, can slash global warming impacts by up to 92 percent, states a new study.
Researchers from CE Delft also found cell-based meat could cause 93 percent less air pollution and use up to 95 percent less land and 78 percent less water.
The studies model a future large-scale cultivated meat production facility. It shows that by 2030, the cost of cell-based meat, when manufactured at scale, could drop to $5.66 per kg.
The life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic assessment (TEA) conducted by CE Delft, with support from The Good Food Institute and GAIA, are the first to utilize data from companies active in the cultivated meat supply chain.
The LCA analyzes various scenarios. This includes the adoption of renewable energy by both the conventional and cultivated meat industry ‘should they go all-in on their climate mitigation efforts’.
In the most optimistic scenario, which factors in ambitious projections of conventional animal agriculture’s achievements in environmental impact improvements, cultivated meat outperforms all forms of conventional meat.
The LCA shows that cultivated meat, when produced using renewable energy, reduces the cumulative environmental impacts of conventional beef by approximately 93 percent, pork by 53 percent, and chicken by 29 percent.
In these scenarios, the conventional products are also produced using renewable energy.
Moreover, CE Delft says this production cost will enable cultivated meat to ‘compete with multiple forms of conventional meat’. As well as ‘serve as a high-quality ingredient in plant-based meat products’.
‘A carbon-neutral food system’
Ingrid Odegard is CE Delft’s Senior Researcher. In a statement sent to PBN, she said: “We show that cultivated meat presents as an achievable low-carbon, cost-competitive agricultural technology that can play a major role in achieving a carbon-neutral food system.
“This research provides a solid base on which companies can build, improve, and advance in their goal of producing cultivated meat sustainably at scale and at a competitive price point.”
‘Massive reductions in emissions’
Elliot Swartz is a Senior Scientist at The Good Food Institute (GFI). He added: “As soon as 2030, we expect to see real progress on costs for cultivated meat. And, massive reductions in emissions and land use brought about by the transition to this method of meat production.
“This research signals a vote of confidence. It serves as a practical roadmap for the industry to address technical and economic bottlenecks, which will further reduce climate impacts and costs.
“Government investment in R&D and infrastructure will be critical to accelerating the development of cultivated meat. And, help us achieve global climate goals.
Swartz then concluded: “Favorable policies and carbon markets can incentivize the restoration of agricultural land for its carbon sequestration and ecosystem services potential. This maximizes the climate benefits of cultivated meat.”
GFI Executive Director Bruce Friedrich also said the world will not achieve net-zero emissions ‘without addressing food and land’. Moreover, he states that alternative proteins are a ‘key aspect of how we do that’.
“Decarbonizing the global economy is impossible with the diffuse production process and range of gases involved in conventional animal agriculture,” Friedrich explained.
“As these new models illustrate… If we can concentrate the environmental impact of meat production in a single, manageable space — and if we power that space with electricity generated from clean energy sources — that’s how the world gets to net-zero emissions.”