During the Singapore International Agri-Food Week (SIAW) last month key industry stakeholders including Cargill, Thai Union, China’s Cellular Agriculture Alliance, Cellular Agriculture Australia, the Japan Associate for Cellular Agriculture, and Korean Society for Cellular Agriculture signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the preferred English-language term for cellular agriculture products.
In the MOU, the preferred term for this category was declared as “cultivated.”
In the past, this sector has gone through a variety of naming conventions including “cultured,” “clean-meat” and “lab-grown” meat. Through a unified agreement on the preferred term, startups in the region can achieve synergy through how these products are presented to customers and recognition for the category can be achieved.
President of the APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture, Dr. Sandhya Sriram, and Program Manager, Peter Yu, said of the agreement “Nomenclature and regulatory harmonization are vital for the long-term success of the cultivated foods industry and this MOU established a regional precedent that can be replicated in other markets around the globe.”
This MOU comes amidst massive growth in this category within the APAC market; worth 4.5 billion in 2022 this category is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.12% to reach a value of close to 8 billion by 2027.
Despite this, regulatory approval for these products has stalled. In 2020 Singapore made history by being the first city-state to approve cultivated Eat-JUST chicken products for sale in a restaurant setting. While these have now been in the market for two years, other startups are still awaiting approval for their products, though many have been cited as being in the pipeline and are anticipated to launch in the near future.
Singapore’s continued investment in the cultivated category is bolstered by this recent MOU, a move to foster alignment in the space.
APAC Managing Director of the Good Food Institute, Mirte Gosker, said of the agreement “The location of this historic announcement was no coincidence. In recent years, Singapore has invested the necessary resources to make the city-state a welcoming ecosystem for food innovation and multilateral collaboration. This MOU is the latest proof that the Lion City is trading its traditional reliance on food imports for a new role as the place where the alternative protein sector’s biggest decisions are forged, announced, and exported to the world.”
Moves including establishing recognized nomenclature for the category will be strengthened through collaborative action on a global and regional scale. This could take the form of coalitions, open-source knowledge platforms, or a combination of these and other strategies.
Recognising the importance of these strategies, a global alliance to advance cultivated foods was recently announced. Members include the Alliance for Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Innovation, the APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture, and Cellular Agriculture Europe, as well as 31 of the leading cultivated meat, seafood, and dairy companies.
While this group is working to accelerate regulatory approval and communicate more effectively about the benefits of cellular agriculture, startups themselves are working to benefit the overall development of the category. One example of this is Stray Dog Capital portfolio company Super Meat’s open-source knowledge-sharing strategy. This will help uncover cheaper nutrient components for cell growth mediums that other startups in the space can use to move the industry toward commercialization.
CEO of the company, Ido Savir, said about this “right now, the industry is working as ‘co-petitors,’ all looking to innovate and create the highest-quality, highest potential product possible for a healthier, more sustainable future.”