What is cultivated meat?

Cultivated meat is meat produced directly from cells. The process of cultivating meat uses the basic elements needed to build muscle and fat and enables the same biological process that happens inside an animal. Cultivated meat is identical to conventional meat at the cellular level.

Where does cultivated meat fit in the alt protein landscape?

Compared to the other pillars of alternative protein production – plant-based and fermentation – cultivated meat is a more recent innovation. 

However, the idea of cultivating meat without the animal has a long history. In 1931, Winston Churchill predicted, “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.”

Professor Mark Post and his team at Maastricht University debuted the first cultivated burger in August 2013. In 2016, the first cultivated meat company, UPSIDE Foods, launched publicly. Mosa Meat and Super Meat soon followed. JUST Foods sold the first cultivated meat product in 2020, debuting chicken nuggets at a restaurant in Singapore. 

Why is cultivated meat important?

Using animals to convert plants to meat is incredibly inefficient. According to the World Resources Institute, it takes nine calories of food fed to a chicken to get one calorie back out in the form of animal flesh, and chickens are the most efficient at converting crops to meat. Livestock provides just 18 percent of calories consumed by humans but takes up 77 percent of global farmland.

Growing meat directly is vastly more efficient.  For example, studies indicate that cultivated meat would use land 60 to 300 percent more efficiently than poultry and 2000 to 4000 percent more efficiently than beef. This greater efficiency would benefit everything from biodiversity to climate. Cultivating meat also avoids the risk of fecal contamination and does not require many animals to live in close confinement. This, in turn, will drastically reduce the need for antibiotics in meat production as well as the risk of zoonotic pandemics.

What needs to be done to advance cultivated meat?

Although there are dozens of cultivated meat companies around the world, none have yet reached commercial-level production in terms of scale or cost. From cell line development to bioprocessor design, there are a number of challenges to meet before cultivated meat is widely available and cost-competitive.

This is why the Good Food Institute created our Competitive Research Grants Program – to drive cutting-edge open-access research around the world. It is also why we are calling for governments to shift some of their billions of agricultural research funds to cultivated meat and other alternative proteins.

There are also a variety of regulatory steps required for cultivated meat to be available to most people. Singapore was the first country to formalize their regulatory requirements and approve a cultivated meat product for sale. Many other countries are working on developing their own standards.

Around the world, GFI is working with government agencies to craft clear regulatory oversight of cultivated meat that puts food safety first. For example, GFI consulted with Singapore’s government leading up to their approval and the first commercial cultivated meat sale. GFI in the U.S. and around the world is working to ensure cultivated meat companies can compete on a level playing field with full public trust.

Cultivated meat nomenclature

We recommend “cultivated meat” continue to be used as the central industry term for meat produced via animal cell culture.

A photo showing cultivated meat tacos

New research supports the term “cultivated meat”

New research conducted in December 2022 validates the use of “cultivated meat” over “cell-cultured meat” and other terms. Learn more in our fact sheet.

Cultivated chicken meat

Cultivated meat: A growing nomenclature consensus

GFI Founder and CEO Bruce Friedrich explores the increased sector alignment around the preferred category name for meat produced through cellular agriculture.

Cultivated meat plated on a white dish

Meat cultivation: Embracing the science of nature

We developed a set of science-forward, evidence-based communication tools, rooted in familiar language, to help explain meat cultivation to non-technical audiences.


Why GFI uses the term “cultivated meat”

It is possible to be science-forward and transparent while staying rooted in familiar concepts and appealing language. Mattson worked pro bono with GFI over the past nine months to explore,…

The cultivated meat industry

Since UPSIDE Foods was announced as the world’s first cultivated meat company on February 1, 2016, the industry has grown tremendously. There are now dozens of cultivated meat companies around the world, with hundreds of millions of dollars raised in early funding rounds. There are now business-to-business companies specializing in serving cultivated meat producers.

2022 cultivated meat and seafood state of the industry report cover


State of the Industry Report: Cultivated meat

This report details the commercial landscape, investments, regulatory developments, and scientific progress in the cultivated meat and seafood industry.

Collaborative research concept illustration

Discover cultivated meat research projects

Due to the gap in foundational research for alternative protein science, we work with a select group of generous donors to run a grant program for open-access research.

Atlantic salmon swimming in the ocean

Myosatellite lines from Atlantic salmon

Through the GFI grant program, the Kaplan lab is developing myosatellite lines for cultivated Atlantic salmon at Tufts University

Happy chickens in a field, representing a future with cultured chicken

Optimizing media for chicken cells

Learn about Dr. David Block’s work to perfect growth media for cultivated chicken at University of California, Davis.

Pattern of cells, representing cell culture for meat cultivation

Co-culturing cells

GFI grantee Dr. Mariana Petronela Hanga is researching culturing different cell types at the same time.

Abstract representation of computational modeling for cultured meat

Computational modeling

GFI grantee Dr. Simon Kahan at the Cultivated Meat Modeling Consortium is using computational modeling to improve bioreactor design for meat cultivation.

A battered and fried cultured meat, a cultured chicken cutlet, plated with sauteed greens and mashed root vegetables | image courtesy of upside foods


The science of cultivated meat

Learn about the science of cultivated meat and the challenges that must be addressed for commercial production.

Getting governmental approval

Before cultivated meat comes to market in a country, a regulatory pathway must be in place. In many places, cultivated meat will be approved product by product. In Europe, cultivated meat will be regulated under an existing regulatory framework, although no company has yet submitted a product for approval. The government of Singapore formalized their regulatory process in 2020. The U.S., Israel, and Japan are also interested in cultivated meat and likely to present regulatory breakthroughs soon. India and Brazil are monitoring global progress with an eye to creating a path to market as well.

U. S.  capitol


Ensuring a clear path to market

Cultivated meat must have an efficient regulatory path to market to be successful. Learn how GFI advocates clear and efficient regulations.

Making the case

GFI contributes to the regulatory process through expert comments and litigation. Through letters to the FDA and state legislators and governors as well as through participation in lawsuits, GFI helps level the playing field for cultivated meat.

Aerial photo of lush green forest


Environmental benefits of alt proteins

How eco-friendly are plant-based and cultivated meats? Explore their climate impacts and resource requirements relative to conventional meat.

Cultivated chicken cut on a salad from above


Cultivated meat media kit

Cultivated meat can transform our global food system. Get the latest updates on this game-changing alternative to conventionally produced meat.

Expert perspectives

The cultivated meat field moves fast. GFI keeps readers up-to-date through regular posts from our experts around the world.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2023/06/sci23033 state of the science vlog graphics header feature

The State of the Science on Alternative Proteins: January through May 2023

Our top highlights from a busy four months for alt protein science.

Https://gfi. Org/wp content/uploads/2023/03/gfi staff retreat 2022 04387 web 1

Seizing the moment: The 10-point story of alternative proteins not being told

Headlines focused on short-term struggles reveal a major blindspot—scientists, policymakers, and industry innovators around the world are making real, on-the-ground progress on bringing delicious, affordable alternative proteins to more plates.

Alternative protein startups underscore the need for scientific and engineering talent

Alternative protein startups underscore the need for scientific and engineering talent

The alternative protein sector is hungry for scientists and engineers — but major investments are needed to build a robust alternative protein workforce.

School of fish swimming in a circle towards the surface

Let’s solve it together: preserving our world’s oceans and waterways with the help of alternative seafood

GFI’s Senior Corporate Engagement Specialist reflects on a conversation with chef and owner of Fishtown Seafood and the future of alternative seafood.

Close up top view of young people putting their hands together

Support our work

Our research and insights are made possible thanks to our generous, global family of donors. Philanthropic support is vital to our mission. Connect with us today to discuss how you can help fuel this transformative work.

Header photo courtesy of JUST