SuperMeat, a cell-cultured meat company based in Israel, and Ajinomoto, a large Japanese food and biotechnology conglomerate, announced today the formation of a strategic partnership to “to establish a commercially viable supply chain platform for the cultivated meat industry.”
According to the announcement, the partnership, which will include an investment by Ajinomoto in SuperMeat, will combine SuperMeat’s expertise in cultivated meat with Ajinomoto’s R&D technology and expertise in biotech and fermentation capabilities.
One of the main focuses of the new partnership will be in the development of cell-cultured growth media, the broth which contains the nutrients needed for animal cell growth, which remains one of the biggest overall cost drivers in the creation of cultivated meat. According to a study by the Good Food Institute conducted in 2020 of cultivated meat producers, 72% of respondents indicated that cell growth media represented over 50% of their operating costs, and 38% said growth media represented 80% or more of operating costs. By combining SuperMeat’s technology advancements in cultivated meat with Anjinomoto’s biomanufacturing expertise, the two companies hope to drive down costs while increasing the supply of food-grade growth factors.
Anjinomoto’s partnership is a further signal of the interest by the Japan food industry in cell-cultured meat production. A number of Japanese investment funds recently participated in a $7 million investment round in Integriculture, one of Japan’s cultured meat pioneers, and before that Aleph Farms joined up with Mitsubishi to work on bringing cultured meat to the country. This interest in accelerating Japan’s cultivated meat industry is not surprising given the country’s historically low food self-sufficiency. Other countries with limited internal agriculture such as Singapore and Israel have identified future food sources like cultivated meat as strategically important, and Japan is following suit.