Innovative approaches such as producing cultivated meat, backed by new technology and artificial intelligence (AI), play a crucial role in addressing food security across the world, according to Eat Just co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick.
Speaking at a conversation with Bloomberg Live Experiences deputy global editor Mallika Kapur at the Qatar Economic Forum on Thursday, Tetrick puts a spotlight on the advancements and implications of cultivated meat technology. He also underlined the importance of building an infrastructure that produces healthier and more affordable meat.
Tetrick pointed out that such advancements would largely help in feeding a growing global population that is expected to reach nine billion by 2040.
He said countries like Qatar can spearhead the establishment of a robust meat facility that caters not only to domestic demands but also enable exports to other regions. This, he stressed, will contribute substantially in alleviating food security challenges faced by those living in extreme poverty.
“Ultimately we need the cost of chicken, beef, lamb, etc, made through cultivating, to get significantly below the cost of conventional meat,” Tetrick said, adding that such a move would revolutionise the meat industry and provide a vital solution to those lacking access to high-quality protein sources.
About health risks associated with cultivated meat, he noted that cultivated chicken shares similar risks with their conventional counterparts such as cholesterol and saturated fat, which are correlated with heart disease.
However, Tetrick outlined the company's vision to develop cultivated meat that is inherently healthier, with minimal risk of diseases.
“Other safety benefits of cultivated meat are: there’s little to no risk of diseases such as avian flu, and microbiological elements like salmonella, e-coli (and other contamination) are absent or levels that are not relevant.
“The very first product that we sold in Singapore is the simplest meat product that you make, a chicken nugget. Now we move to chicken strips, we’re working on a chicken breast, and we’ll keep advancing it,” he said.
Noting that the cultivated meat industry is still in its early stages, Tetrick said Eat Just is currently the only company selling cultivated meat though in limited quantities.
About the role of AI in solving food security, he said: “I think in the future, it’ll be pretty significant whether it’s the design and the engineering that we make the meat, whether it is optimising the kinds of components that are part of the feed.
“You are dealing with a lot of data, and to the extent that machine learning techniques and AI can help us more effectively sort thru data to make smarter, quicker decisions, it’s gonna be relevant”.
Josh Tetrick with Mallika Kapur at the Qatar Economic Forum. PICTURE: Shaji Kayamkulam