The food start-up – known for its vegan mayonnaise and cookie dough – announced that, for the past year, it has been secretly developing technology to produce lab-grown meat and seafood.
Currently, there are only a handful of lab-grown meat producers including Memphis Meats and SuperMeats. News that Hampton Creek, which supplies Walmart and Amazon-acquired Whole Foods Market, plans to get product on supermarket shelves so quickly may heighten competition in the market.
Hampton Creek do not plan to eat into the market share of the meat and seafood industry, though. Instead, the firm said it plans to license its discoveries with the world’s largest meat processors to encourage a step-change in global food production.
“Our interest is large-scale, permanent adoption of healthy and sustainable food,” said Hampton Creek Josh Tetrick in a LinkedIn post.
A platform is being built to enable thousands of food processors to bring Hampton Creek’s discoveries in lab-grown food production to their products. In two years’ time all this data will be open-sourced to enable food entrepreneurs to significantly increase the number of ethical lab-grown food producers.
“At current rates, production of meat and seafood around the world will double to 1.2 trillion pounds [in weight] by 2050,” added Tetrick. “Our planet cannot afford to supply the water, fuel, pesticides, and fertiliser that industrialised animal production requires.”
He said the business had made big strides in advanced scalable lab-grown meat production by providing animal cells with a sustainable and economic source of nutrients. Without giving its secret away, Tetrick said his company could produce meat and seafood that was around 10 times more efficient to produce than the world’s highest-volume slaughterhouse – a pork factory run by Smithfield Foods.