Chicken from chicken, just not from an actual chicken
16:06

Chicken from chicken, just not from an actual chicken

Science
Well, back in March of 2019, my colleague, Lexi Servides, went down to JUST, a plant-based food company here in San Francisco and had something very different. An early sample of chicken from chicken, not from a chicken. It's what they call cultured meat. Back then it was very prospective and coming to market one day. Now that de is here. [MUSIC] Joining me now is Josh tetrick. He's co founder and CEO of eat just the company behind just egg which you may have seen at the grocery store a little, little yellow bottle of liquid egg that is made from plants. Now they're going a very different direction creating chicken that is made from cultured cells. Josh, for those who have no idea what we're talking about, what are we talking about? Cultured meat is making real meat, chicken, beef lamb without the slaughter of an animal. You take a cell either through a biopsy or a cell bank, you then identify nutrients to feed that cell. So imagine that animal that chicken or a cow Consuming soy and corn, but you identify nutrients that feed the cell and eventually you scale it up in a machine called a bioreactor and a culturing process. So instead of requiring the physicality of the animal, and necessarily all of the resources that go into feeding that animal, so in the case of a chicken, they're about 60 billion chickens that are consumed on a yearly basis. Those chickens eat an enormous amount of food. And often that feed comes from destroying rainforests and planning fields of chicken feed. Instead of a rain forest. It's a carbon sink that's full of biodiversity. We now have hundreds of millions of acres of fields dedicated just to beating chickens. So in cultured meat, you don't need all that you need a cell on. You need nutrients to feed that cell on and then you need machines like a bioreactor ultimately scale that up. In with a single cell. You can create an unlimited amount of meat without antibiotics without deforesting a single acre. Have land and we think it's the way the world is going to be consuming meat in the future And you're doing it first in Singapore. Why Singapore Singapore for a few reasons. One is Singapore is one of the most forward thinking countries. On the planet so when you think about new technologies positioning themselves to exist in a world that doesn't look like today, but a world 10, 20, 40 years in the future, Singapore has always been a leader in that regard. And with that, they end up having really forward thinking regulators so we work directly with SFA there Food authority. In over two years ago, we begin the process of submitting our chicken cell line to the regulators at SFA. They looked at the composition, the process a number of elements related to safety, and they were the first country to really get their act together in terms of establishing A substantive regulatory framework, a rigorous process for reviewing this. And on Thanksgiving we heard that we got the formal approval. So, how long will it be from that approval you've just received a few days before our taping that before people in Singapore can buy it? So we're going to launch it in a single restaurant. We've already identified one. It's short enough where if you were in Singapore, now would be the time to start making reservations. We didn't get the approval. We didn't work two years to just sit on this. We're ready to get it out there. We want to scale it up and after Singapore will move to, The United States and Western Europe,>>You know if To you as a distributor or a restaurant, and I had bags of money and says, I want this now, how soon can we launch in the US what would your answer be?>>The biggest limiting step to launching in the U S is the FDA and the USDA. Creating a regulatory framework, similar to Singapore. So that's really, what's stopping a launch in the United States right now. So the FDA in the U S have general guidelines, but they need to evolve those guidelines in a codified regulatory framework. Once they do that, we'll be ready to launch now to be clear, these launches, we're talking about aren't, full-scale all around the country, tens of millions of pounds. We'll get there. It's 1000 liters. It'll be in a single restaurant. And then we want to eventually move from 1000 to 5000 to 10,000 or 100,000. Obviously 10s of 1000s of restaurants and retail locations, but that's gonna take some work in what this does is regulatory pathway that Singapore is provided. Is open a door. So it sounds like more of what you're missing in the US is not necessarily the ability to meet the regulatory standards. You don't even have the standards to aim at yet here. That's right. I recently did an article about the general nature of culture meet without getting into any one particular company pursuing it. And I'd say the comments came in three main buckets. Let's do a lightning round. I'm gonna hit you with each of them. I'll paraphrase each of them and get your reaction. There was one crowd. That'll say this sounds like a science project, not food. Yuck. What do you say to them? I say to them, let's look at how conventional meat is produced. So there's 60 plus billion chickens that I talked about. Well, those aren't chickens outside enjoying the sun in the soil they're produced under pretty intensive means. And those chickens need to be fed a whole lot of soy and corn. That soy and corn requires us to say goodbye to a rain forest and hello to chicken feed fields. And then if you look at in terms of how those chickens are slaughtered, not always the most sanitary, so that's what we're comparing it against. So it's important to comparison. In this world. It's just a cleaner process and the result of having a much cleaner process. You're going to have a much lower concentration of salmonella traces of Nikolai a fecal contamination. Am in from sustainability perspective 90-plus percent less land water carbon emissions. Let alone the fact you don't need to kill the animal, is another example, if you look at the conventional broiler chicken didn't look at anything like it did 60 70 years ago. It's three four times as big as bones are much larger. It's only living to about 47 days. Not exactly your natural birth, right? And we're living at a time where you got more human beings who want more meat. We've got to figure out a way to solve this problem. You can eat plants that works. You can eat plant based meat that works. Or you can apply a little bit of science to try to try to make them beat. We think most people in the future Here's the next one. Gross. I don't want all that fake stuff in my food. What do you think that's coming from? So the single ingredient that we're talking about is cultured chicken. So let's say when your readers your viewers is allergic to chicken, they should not have our culture chicken. So that's what it is. It is chicken. Now plant based meats. Do add like we have a plant based egg it does have multiple ingredients because there's not a single ingredient that allows you to replicate the egg you need to put a few of them together. But in the world of cultured meat, the most important ingredient is the cell which is from a chicken. So the message you've got to get across is we're making meat from Meat. Meat from meat. That's right A third one here, high tech meat, don't eat it don't fix what's not broken. I think you've kind of addressed some of that already. I would tell someone that you listen if you're if you're mostly eating apples and kale and a rubella in squash Don't worry about what we're doing. It's probably not for you. But the reality is we're living in a world right now where a lot more human beings are consuming animal protein, chicken, beef, etc today than they did yesterday and what that means is a third of our ice free land. Is dedicated just to planting soybean corn to feed these animals, all the intensive animal agriculture all the animal protein we consume actually is emitting more greenhouse gas emissions than all the sources of transportation combined. We're not engineering ourselves. These are non GMO cells, right? There's no gene editing. There's no Fancy engineering where identifying a cell didn't require a slaughter of a single animal or identifying nutrients to feed the cell and then we're making clean meat that can feed lots of people. And then finally, just from a morality perspective, if we can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner without killing another living thing, Maybe that's a better deal. So this brings me to what you're calling the cultured chicken product it's not just something, it's called what? It's called, good meat and we wanted to, create a new brand because we don't want anyone to be confused about what we're doing, it is not plant based so. For the vegans out there, this might not be for you. Now, I'm an instant case, I consume a plant based diet, except for the chicken, that I saw. Don't leave, I don't know what you call me but we just didn't want there to be any confusion between Josh which is entirely plant based. And good, which is entirely animal based, just done in a more sustainable way. So the new brand is GoodMe. And the first product that we'll launch is called Chicken. And what's interesting listening to you talk, and I've spoken to many of the leaders in the In the alternative protein is Ethan brown Pat Brown yourself, your, your partner Josh ball. Most other leaders will go out with an environmental message first and then a health message and somewhat bury the lead when it comes to animals, but you're putting it up there just as high as the environmental discussion you don't seem to shy from that part being In the essence of your brand. I used to but you know what I'm getting a little bit older and I'm getting a little bit impatient with folks who, who don't see that to be one of the most important things. We don't need to take another life to feed our families. I know a lot of other things are important. I care deeply about mitigating climate change, I care deeply about preserving biodiversity. But there's something I think deep in our value system about behaving in a kind, in a caring way, and I think our huge system Should represent that. And what excites me so much about this moment in the history of it is we can go and eating lots of meat without killing a single animal. And more than anything, Brian, I wanna be alive and a part of the world in some number of years in the future where the majority of Chicken wings a,nd chicken breasts, and fried drumsticks, and hamburgers that are being consumed. Dinner require killing a single animal. Ethan Brown over at beyond meat spoke to him recently and he said, we've looked at cultured meat as because he says I don't care. I'm agnostic in terms of technology. I just want to get things done to make food better. And he says looked at culture didn't make sense, if it does one day we'll go there, we're not wedded to plant based. What do you know that perhaps he doesn't see about culture? Why is it working for you and another leader says it doesn't? Well, so when we thought of what kind of meat do we want do, we obviously thought about plant based meat because we do a plant basic and I really thought of. restaurants and diners in a place where I grew up Birmingham, Alabama. And I tried to imagine in the next 10 20 30 years what would have to be true in these small town restaurants and these diners, for the only thing to be on the menu to be the ethical, moral sustainable, what would have to be the case there? So we thought about plant based chicken and plant based burgers and I had a hard time imagining these restaurants and diners in Birmingham, removing the conventional animal product from their menu. I could imagine all of them putting a plant based product on them, which obviously was a really good step. But I couldn't imagine imagine them removing the conventional product, and I thought the only way I can imagine the good choice being the only choice is if it's made from an animal. Ultimately, it's more affordable than the conventional product taste. Just as good, as better. It's safer. And it felt like a less of a straight line because the technologies less developed. But I think a more exponential impact if we could figure out a way to to make it work so we said, let's go for. Bruce Friedrich over good foot Institute likes to talk about their their vision of change as a as big backers of the replacement of animals in the food system. He'll say. Our vision is if it tastes the same or better and cost the same or less the dominoes start to fall. That's generally kind of the theory over there. Where are you on those two metrics tastes the same or better and cost the same or less with this new product. So today It tastes like chicken soup. We got the taste. We got a lot of work to do on the cost side. So right now we're gonna put it on the menu at about price parity to premium chicken. Our costs have come down over three x in the last year, but we have a long way to go, north of five years to get it below the cost. Okay, conventional chicken conventionally now to get it below the cost, we need to scale it up. So instead of 1000 liters 5000 10,000 We need to make sure there's nutrients that we're feeding the cells continue to be more efficient. We continue to reduce the costs. But the exciting thing is the pathway is there to do it. Right. We're not confused how we get there. We know exactly the work that we need to do. That certainly is different than what we heard. You know, even a few years ago where the first cultured burgers were coming out. And then with these million dollar burgers, you're not in the stratosphere. You're in the high real estate Stock Market, it sounds like. You look at any technologies, whether we're talking about electric car or a laptop, or the first phone that came out. There are a lot of principles that apply here, right? You get to scale some of the components come down and ultimately as you continue producing, you figure out how to be more efficient and then. Yeah economics of scale and up integrating in the cost comes down. So this isn't that, this isn't that much different. It's a combination of technology efficiency scale, we're gonna get to a point where the cost is gonna be below. I'm of the belief that restaurants whether they're fast food or fine dining or anything in between are huge changemakers in this area, I think when you see something on the menu, Do that very phrase on the menu has a certain sound of normalcy and legitimization to it. So as you will go to much broader restaurants beyond the one in Singapore, what do you think is gonna work for them? Is it novelty? Is it taste and texture? Is it cook ability is it cost, whereas what's your main argument going to be to get the broader restaurant industry to embrace this. Initially it's gonna be novelty, right? I don't think there's, we can't get around that. Having something that will be the first in their city, the first of their restaurant, that's gonna be the initial drive. But at the end of the day, that's gonna wear off, right? Novelty is not gonna carry this thing over the finish line at the end of the day, it's gonna be because. The substantive meat on their menu is a little tastier. It's safer. It works more cookie ability perspective the same way their conventional product does. And most importantly, consumers just choose it. They want it eventually on one where you know you get 10s of 1000s of restaurants that have it on the menu. At some point, I want those restaurant owners to have a conversation with their chefs, where they say, why do we have this conventional chicken on the menu too,- and you're already in the enviable position, perhaps historically, where someone can say your product tastes like chicken and you take it as a compliment. That's what we want you to sometimes when people try it, they try it they say man, this tastes like chicken and they almost act surprised as if it's supposed to taste better than chicken or different than chicken, but it definitely doesn't taste better or different. It just tastes like chicken because it is

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