Five years since it became the first company to grow cultivated steaks directly from non-modified cow cells back in 2018, Aleph Farms announced the next stage of its scaling-up developments today (March 1).
The firm has acquired a new manufacturing facility in Modi’in, Israel from biotechnology company VBL Therapeutics, and inked a partnership with Singapore’s ESCO Aster.
“We will conduct a smooth technology transfer from our pilot production facility in Rehovot, Israel, to the Modi’in manufacturing facility and other equipment acquired from VBL Therapeutics, including brand new 1,000-litre cultivators. This would enable us to increase our output to meet rising demand for quality protein,” said Didier Toubia, CEO and co-founder of Aleph Farms.
In addition, the firm has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ESCO Aster, the world’s first and only company with full regulatory approval from a government authority (Singapore Food Agency), and with ISO 22000 and FSSC 22000 certifications, to produce cultivated meat for commercial sales and consumption at the highest safety standards.
As part of the MOU, a new facility will be built and operated in Singapore, where ESCO Aster’s manufacturing expertise will be leveraged to produce cultivated meat and boost production capabilities.
According to Xiangliang Lin, CEO of ESCO Aster, the organisation is liaising with local religious authorities to obtain halal certification, so as to facilitate Aleph Farms’ expansion to other South East Asian (SEA) countries and the broader Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
“Our aim is for this facility to become the first halal-certified cultivated meat production line in the world, which would allow significantly more diners in SEA to enjoy our products safely within the bounds of their preferred cultural norms. We’re also opening an office in Singapore to support our go-to-market and operational activities in the region.
“We hope to launch in Singapore and Israel later this year upon receiving regulatory approvals. Building up production capacity quickly in these locations while keeping capital investment lean provides a clear road map to scalability. Following these initial markets, we are looking to enter the US once we get approvals from the FDA and the USDA,” added Toubia.
Fellow cultivated meat first GOOD Meat has previously highlighted its halal ambitions.
The bigger picture
The collaboration between Aleph Farms and ESCO Aster aims to help steer Singapore closer towards its “30 by 30” goal — the establishment of agri-food capabilities that can satisfy 30% of the country’s nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030.
“From a single fertilised egg, we can grow thousands of tonnes of cultivated meat, and play our part for a just and inclusive transition to sustainable and secure food systems. Beyond Israel and Singapore, we plan on building additional strategic assets worldwide to bolster food security and food supply chain resilience,” said Toubia.
As such, the firm is working closely with regulatory agencies around the world.
For instance, it has signed MOUs with major food and meat companies in Japan (Mitsubishi Corporation), Thailand (Thai Union) and South Korea (CJ CheilJedang) to assess the specific regulatory approval processes required in each market.
Plans to produce different cuts of steak and other products based on animal cells, such as cultivated collagen, through additional proprietary capabilities are also on the drawing board.