Vow, a Sydney-based innovative food startup is taking cell-based protein to a new level and developing cultured versions of unconventional exotic animal meats. Unlike many other cultivated meat startups that are working on creating steak, chicken and seafood using cellular agriculture, Vow is dedicated to using the technology to grow products such as tortoise, kangaroo, zebra, and yak. Founded in 2019, cofounders George Peppou and Tim Noakesmith, believe that the human diet can now include a wide variety of delicious yet sustainably produced animal proteins. They are quick to share that currently, only four animal species supply the majority of globally available meat products, which represents 0.02% of total options. In fact, 99.8% of species are still comparatively undiscovered for an application in the global food industry, and they want to change that.
Since the startup launched last year, it has managed to cell-culture kangaroo meat which it used to create dumplings, marking the first time ever for wild animal meat to be cultivated. According to the founders, the company is now focused on creating an entire “cell library” of both domesticated and exotic animal cell lines, which can be developed into food products by different brands. Selecting different specific types of animal cells, based on its functionality, such as taste, protein content and texture, Voe will add ingredients and essential micronutrients to nourish them to grow into a complex finished product.
Even though cell-based food is still in its infancy, the sector has seen over +$700 million flow into investments in the companies and products, including over $400 million last year alone. Proponents of cell-based food are banking that companies will hear and deliver to the public’s demand for sustainability across the entire food supply chain, as well as being a bountiful source of protein moving forward. From what I understand, reports shows that by 2040, 35% of meat will be lab-cultured and 25% will be vegan alternatives. According to the same report from global consultancy AT Kearney, it is only a matter of time before these novel meat replacements capture a substantial market share.
Interestingly, according to Noakesmith, there have been various historical reports of how delicious the meat of the Galapagos tortoise, or the rich fat of the dugong was, but unfortunately, there is no way to turn these animals into food without also decimating their populations. Vow’s website claims it takes just six weeks to get from an animal cell to a plated product, but think about this, in my opinion, Vow may have a huge comparative advantage in developing exotic animal meat, meaning consumers will be having a brand new taste experience, that won’t be negatively skewed from a comparison standpoint. I suspect this could lead to a lot of millennials deciding they like the experience as well as all the new tastes. For now, Vow is focused on markets in the Asia-Pacific region and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. (Source: foodnavigator, thespoon, greenqueen)