A far-fetched and expensive idea only a few years ago, this fast-developing industry of lab-grown meat is starting to take off in various parts of the world. When the sector matures and becomes an industrial giant, traditional farming will already be on the receiving end.

The traditional dairy farmer may be on the way out, and if advanced agri-tech has its way, it will be sooner rather than later that this ancient and well-established part of our rural economy could collapse with this threat among the many which seem to be occurring on a more frequent basis.

Technology company Philips once gave a television tour years ago promoting why they have a department dedicated to obsolescence. Their reasoning was that if they were not developing the next “big thing”, then they would be another Kodak.

“Major disruption is coming to protein ingredients,” said Stephanie Mattucci, associate director, global food science for Mintel, Food Business News reported.

“Clean meat or lab-grown meat is expected to disrupt both the meat industry and the plant-based meat industry.”

Lab-grown proteins already are being sold in the US. One company, Brave Robot, an “animal-free ice cream brand”, incorporates non-animal whey protein isolate from Perfect Day, a startup based in Berkeley, California.

The product label reads, “a simple, animal-free treat that uses less land, energy and water.”

With the commercialisation of the industry, investment is already piling in from well known venture capital groups, as well as more traditional investors, who clearly see the writing on the wall.

Price collapse of lab-grown meat

Some traditionalists write off cultured meat as a long-term fantasy, but the reality of the situation is that prices of production have collapsed in less than a decade. According to one study by Kaila Colbin lab-grown meat started its price at $2.3mn per kilogram. Three years after that, one kilogram hit $40,000 and by 2020, the price was down to $22.43, or as she puts it “a drop in price of 99.9999% in just seven years.”

Working on that formula, lab-grown meat could—at least in the US market—be as price competitive if not cheaper by 2027 than traditional forms.

Moreover, companies like McDonalds and Burger King are presently trialling non-meat substitutes as the backlash over industrialised farming practices grow. This is while sales of non-dairy milk substitutes continue to expand annually. Statista reported that in 2018, the soy milk market alone amounted to $15.33bn worldwide, while in 2025 that figure is expected to grow to $23.2bn. Other forms of milk substitute are also expected to grow on the same trajectory in the coming months and years.

Where does this leave the average livestock farmer?

Without significant foresight from government, we could see the end of traditional forms of farming in the country overnight and a potential run on the banks as small, medium and large farmers all default as demand collapses.

Our gut instinct is to work on a form of sectoral support (subsidies) but with the headwinds as they are it not time we look at supporting the owners of this land to either change their usage now?






Privacy Preference Center