Chinese funding for alternative proteins remains a small fraction of what the nation is capable of, these moves by various government bodies show the extent of interest among local officials, which could position China at the forefront of the next big boom in cell-based meat and food technology.
And Chinese government public records reviewed by Good Food Institute (GFI) APAC indicates that significant resources are being allocated to optimize and scale up the emerging protein alternative sector, as previously done for the national development of solar panels, lithium-ion batteries and electric vehicles.
“There is no way to achieve the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement without changing the way we produce protein, but encouraging new evidence suggests that China’s leaders understand the enormous benefits of producing meat from plants and growing it directly from cells,” GFI stressed.
Investments in cellular meat
While analyzing the Chinese government’s priorities requires reading a few tea leaves, Chinese investors and startups have been much more candid. This month, the first cell-based meat company China’s Joes Future Food has raised $10.9 million for its cultured pork business, following its CNY 50 million ($7.7 million) Series A funding round in mid-October.
This brings the startup’s total profit to date to more than CNY 63.8 million (USD 10 million). The latest cash infusion will be used for produce inexpensive serum-free culture mediabuild a pilot production line for cultured meat products and develop safety approvals.
Joes Future Food started producing cell-based meat in 2019. It created minced pork grown without FBS whey with a group of scientists from Najing Agricultural University, led by Professor Zhou Guanghong. “We will try to bring cell cultured meat to the table and provide Chinese consumers with healthier, safer, low-carbon meat products,” says Joes Future Food Co-Founder and CEO Ding Shijie.
The road to a sustainable China
China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has already implemented a key national research and development program called “Green Biological Production”. The production of cultured and vegetable meat is among more than 20 research projects supported by this grant, which will release a reported CNY 600 million (US$93 million).
Last month, at a major scientific forum, the China Meat Food Research Center and the Beijing Academy of Food Sciences announced new research achievements in the field 3D bioprinting for cultured meata method currently applied to shrimp cell products from the Singapore company Shiok Meats.
The researchers showed 3D printed models of mixed cells with edible materials, cell suspensions for 3D printing, biomaterial simulants and inks for 3D printing. They also prepared a live demonstration of the process of 3D printing cultured meat for the attendees.
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