Magic Valley ‘cultivates’ meat in the lab – no animal killing necessary

 By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

WHAT’S THE MARKET for cultivated beef or pork? That is to say, beef or pork produced in a laboratory that isn’t actually meat from the animal?

Paul Bevan, the CEO of start-up Magic Valley said research showed a lot of young consumers were now preferring food produced with technology, for sustainability and ethical reasons.

“We’ve seen in recent years a boom in first time sales of plant-based meat substitutes which are pitched as sustainable ethical alternatives to traditionally farmed meat products,” Mr Bevan told Talking Business. 

“The difference there is that those plant-based meat substitutes are never going to be able to replicate the molecular structure of animal meat.”

He said the fact there was a demand for these plant-based meats indicated that consumers wanted an ethical sustainable alternative to a traditionally farmed product.

He said the fact that sales of plant-based meats had fallen showed there was a demand for an ethical sustainable solution that was identical to a traditionally farmed meat product that consumers had been eating for thousands of years, in terms of taste, texture and the way it felt once it was in the mouth.

Magic Valley ‘grows’ its meats

The way Magic Valley creates cultivated meat is by taking a scraping from the ear of a cow or pig, or through a punch biopsy. The cells are then taken to the lab and nutrients, like glucose and amino acids, are then added.

The skin cells are then reprogrammed into stem cells. From there, the cells are programmed to become muscle, fat, bone, connective tissue and blood. All of this is combined to make a real meat product.

Only it isn’t meat. It’s a product that’s created in the lab that has the same molecular structure of beef or pork. Only it’s not.

“We’re basically replicating what would happen inside the animal’s body but doing it in the controlled environment of the lab,” Mr Bevan said.

Passing the taste test

There have been extensive taste tests and the cultivated beef and pork is regarded by testers as tasting exactly the same as the product from the farm.

“Molecularly, they’re the same,” Mr Bevan said.

But because it’s produced in the lab, Magic Valley can reduce the amount of saturated fat and it can add additional Omega 3 or fortify it with vitamins and minerals.

“Taste-wise, it should be identical, but the nutritional profile will be even better,” Mr Bevan said.

“There is the potential for it to be much healthier.”

Economies of scale to bring prices down

Mr Bevan said beef or pork was more expensive to produce this way, but the price was expected to come down once the business had reached some scale.

“We expect that the cost of traditionally farmed meat will continue to rise,” he said.

“Obviously there will be increased demand from increased population. We’ve only got a limited supply of land, water and resources so we project those prices will continue to go up and the price of cultivated meat will continue to come down.”

It will also be better for sustainability, with a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and land use.

So when can we expect the first shipment of cultivated beef and pork to restaurants, butcher shops and supermarkets?

Magic Valley is aiming for regulatory approval in 2024 which means its cultivated meats will be available this year, or in 2025.


Image: Magic Valley tested it's latest product, cultivated pork bao buns, and immediately won public acclaim. In it's Linkedin report, the company wrote: "We recently showcased our newest item on the menu - cultivated pork bao buns - at a tasting event held at John Gorilla Cafe in Brunswick. The incorporation of fresh and delicate flavours in this new presentation of our cultivated pork product highlighted its exceptional quality, showcasing its similarity to farmed pork meat in taste. The enthusiastic feedback and positive reception from our guests demonstrate a strong belief in the cultivated meat industry's potential for sustainable growth and innovation."


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at


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