Aleph Farms and Mitsubishi Will Bring Cultivated Meat to Japan

Jan. 11, 2021
Japan's high population density and low self-sufficiency in food production make it a good target for cultured meat.

Israel's Aleph Farms has signed a deal to have Mitsubishi Corp.'s Food Industry Group bring cultivated meat to Japan.

Aleph Farms will provide its BioFarm manufacturing platform for cultivation of whole-muscle steaks. Mitsubishi will provide its expertise in biotechnology processes, branded food manufacturing and local distribution channels in Japan.

The technology for making the steaks is planned to transition to pilot status by the end of 2022, with Japan and Singapore being "high on the list" of target countries that will first get the cultured steaks.

Japan's high population density and low self-sufficiency in food production make it a good target for cultured meat. Over the past several decades, Japan's farming population has steadily decreased as the average age of farmers has risen.

Since 2000, the government has sought to raise the nation's food self-sufficiency rate as a policy goal, setting the target rate originally at 45 percent, then 50 percent in 2010, then setting it back to 45 percent in 2015. The rate, however, keeps falling instead of rising.

Aleph Farms' goal is to achieve cost-parity with animal steaks. "In 2018, we reported that one serving of steak cost $50 to produce," said Didier Toubia, CEO and co-founder of Aleph Farms. He did not quantify how much "one serving" was.

"In April 2020, we completed the design of our first pilot BioFarms and have achieved key milestones in cost reduction with our unique five modules- including clear path for decreasing the growth medium cost 500 times," he continued. "As we scale our BioFarms, we will leverage economies of scale and the cost per steak will reach parity with slaughter-based meat within a few years."

"The [Memorandum of Understanding] with Mitsubishi ... marks an important milestone for us, as we methodically build the foundations of our global go-to-market activities with selected partners," he continued.

Aleph Farms and Mitsubishi Corporation are members of the Cellular Agriculture Study Group, a consortium implementing policy proposals under the Japanese Center for Rule-Making Strategy. The consortium brings together a range of experts on the definition and construction of cellular agricultural foods. It also adds clarification of conditions for Japanese products and technologies to have international competitiveness and establishes mechanisms for coexistence and division of roles with existing industries.

A 2019 round of funding included investments by Cargill and the Migros Group of Switzerland.

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