Australian cultivated meat start-up Magic Valley has announced a major development in their processes, allowing it to create cultivated lamb products using only a small skin scraping, rather than a larger sample of the animal.
Chief executive Paul Bevan, stated that, to his knowledge, Magic Valley was one of the first companies to have been able to transform animal skin cells into stem cells (which can be used over and over to produce muscle and fat cells) without the use of foetal bovine serum.
“Lucy the lamb is our very special cell donor. From just a tiny skin biopsy less than 4mm in diameter we are able to generate an infinite number of muscle and fat cells without ever having to interfere with an animal again. That is one of the distinct advantages of our technology and using induced pluripotent stem cells.
“This is quite a new technology that not many people worldwide have experience with. It’s a lot easier to use adult [fat and muscle] stem cells, which is a more scalable approach” he said, believing that “eventually other companies will transition across.”
Bevan explained that Magic Valley’s lamb products “are designed for meat eaters” who are seeking an environmentally conscious alternative that is “better for animals.” Bevan emphasised the importance of getting the taste as accurate and authentic as possible through the cultivation process, noting that the Magic Valley team includes a scientist who comes from a long line of farmers and butchers and is “an expert in muscle fibres and how things should taste.”
Founded in 2020, the company is also kicking off a $5 million seed capital raise, with Bevan confident that the company would have few issues in raising capital moving forward.
Bevan explained that he expects the take-up of cell-cultivated meat will be slow at first, but it will hit a tipping point where there is rapid adoption: “A lot of [the take-up of cell-based meat] will depend on how soon products come to market,” noting that Magic Valley is aiming have its products on supermarket shelves within 24 months. “We’ll be positioning our products as aspirational – for consumers with concerns about their own health, animal welfare, the environment and sustainability.”
Cultivated lamb is currently in the spotlight, with Future Meat Technologies in Israel recently showing a prototype of a cultivated lamb product it has been developing over the last three years. Following the company’s development of a cultivated lamb it says it is “accelerat[ing] its innovation focus to expanding into even more animal species,” said Future-Meat CEO Nicole Johnson-Hoffman.
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