Joint venture between Cult Foods and Peqish Food Co. focuses on medically tailored food and cellular agriculture
Once the share exchange closes, the joint venture will leverage both parties’ capabilities to form a “new, equally-owned subsidiary company” in the cellular agriculture field, according to the joint press release.
Cult Foods, which also parterns with Ohayo Valley, Fiction, Just Eat Inc. and Mogale Meat, will cover all of the startup expenses, including the development of the initial product design and branding, expertise in design research, ideation, program management, recruitment, and investment.
Peqish’s team of doctors and chefs, provides prepared foods for academic institutions, hospitals, long-term care facilities; as well as equips retail and fresh food manufacturers with either finished products or ingredients to prepare at the counter. In its joint venture with Cult Foods, Peqish will provide industry insights, a network of professionals, culinary medicine, clinical expertise, and access to its team of clinical and scientific experts to conduct trials and validate products.
Food as medicine shapes nutrition research despite lack of coverage in nutrition programs
This partnership underscores the intersection between nutrition and healthcare. The food as medicine movement encompasses medically tailored meals, groceries and prescription plans, among others to address the growing epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases.
According to the Food is Medicine Coalition, there have been 24 ongoing research studies since 2021 “demonstrating the impact of food and nutrition services on health and cost outcomes.”
The organization reported that 79% of the studies are focused on medically tailored meals (MTM) by registered dietician nutritionists (RDN), and suggests implementing MTM for Medicaid, Medicare and other federal healthcare programs.
“Robust research shows that when MTMs are included as part of a treatment plan for the highest risk in our communities, the service results in higher patient satisfaction, better health outcomes and lower healthcare costs,” according to the coalition’s website.
Since the White House hosted its Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health last September, private and public sector investments towards health, nutrition and research programs totaled $8 billion. While food as medicine programs are not currently covered by the government, the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization is expected to further expand nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as food stamps.
Reinforcing the growing cellular agriculture field
While cellular agriculture ROI is still low, Cult Foods and Peqish’s partnership reinforces the food industry’s pursuit of alternative methods to produce meat and dairy products with less strain on the environment. Barriers to entry are high given the tremendous cost of laboratory equipment and scalability to supply to retailers, coupled with low consumer adoption in the U.S.
While lab-grown meat is still in its early stages in terms of economic viability, scalability and consumer acceptance, it is possible for its costs to be comparable to conventional meat once it’s in industrial production, according to Good Food Institute (GFI).
Reiterating GFI’s data on the growth of the cellular agriculture field, in 2016 only four start-ups specializing in commercialized cultivated meat were formed. By 2022, 156 companies around the world are dedicated to developing the cultivated meat and seafood space.
Total investments reached $2.8 billion with $896 million invested in 2022, driven by new industry alliances and partnerships, equipment and facilities, research and new policy pathways, among others.