Africa’s first-ever cultivated beef burger has been unveiled.
Mzansi Meat Co debuted the new burger this week at an event in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s the first cellular agriculture startup on the African continent.
Founded by Brett Thompson and Tasneem Karodia, the company is on a mission to feed Africa’s growing population with sustainably produced protein.
Like most cellular meat companies, Mzansi Meat Co’s food scientists cultivated the burger in a lab, after collecting cells from a living animal (in this case, a cow from a local animal sanctuary).
The cells were isolated and grown in a culture medium. Then, they were placed on an edible structure and combined with spices and flavoring to produce the end product.
Why produce cultured meat?
Conventional animal agriculture is destructive to the environment and contributes 14.5 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. This has motivated innovators to think of new ways to produce the foods we love, in more sustainable ways.
While many brands are making meat-like products out of plants, the cell-based meat market is growing too.
Mzansi Meat Co is the first to produce a cultured meat burger in Africa, but in Singapore, cell-based meat has already appeared on restaurant menus.
The Singapore Food Authority became the first in the world to approve the sale of cultured meat in 2020. And last year, California brand Eat Just debuted cultured chicken at 1880, one of the country’s top restaurants.
‘Our burger is only the beginning’
Mzansi Meat hopes to follow closely in Africa.
“Cellular agriculture wasn’t an industry in Africa until Mzansi was born,” said Thompson. “Our burger is only the beginning, we now know it’s possible and the next step is scaling up. It starts with one small beef burger and we aim to be producing tons of cultivated meat every month in the future.”
According to Karodia, the brand will now focus on cultivated sausages. After that, it’ll tackle meat that can be substituted in traditional cuisines across Africa. “Everything we make will be braai-friendly and ready for the fire,” she said.
The cultivated meat market has significant potential when it comes to removing animals from the food system. According to McKinsey, a management consulting firm, by 2030, the sector could make up “billions of pounds of the world’s meat supply.”