Scientists, instead of farmers will "raise" cattle and pigs, Macedonians prefer natural steaks

Meat in the market / "Free Press" - Dragan Mitreski

So far, no research has been done in the country whether Macedonian consumers would buy laboratory-produced meat, but unofficially the market is too traditional to accept such products.

Faced with the ever-increasing demand for meat, world producers are increasingly experimenting in laboratories, instead of on farms. Following first successful results with chicken and pork, Brazilian meat producer JBS has announced that its subsidiary Bio Tech Foods has started construction in Spain of its first plant to produce lab-grown meat on a commercial scale. The production facilities are due to be completed by mid-2024, Reuters reported. According to JBS, the plant, which will be the world's largest laboratory beef production facility, will have an annual production capacity of more than 1.000 metric tons of cultured beef. In the medium term, the company believes it can increase production to 4.000 metric tons per year.

In Macedonia, meat is still produced naturally on farms, and what is imported, such as beef and chicken, is produced in the same way. So far, no research has been done in the country whether Macedonian consumers would buy laboratory-produced meat, but unofficially the market is too traditional to accept such products. According to the data of the Chamber of Commerce of Macedonia, about 90 percent of domestic needs for raw pork are covered by domestic production, but the Macedonian meat industry completely imports frozen pork for its needs. The main markets from which pork is imported are the EU (62 percent), Brazil (11 percent) and Poland (4 percent). Imported pork products (ham, sausages and bacon) are relatively cheaper despite the import duty costs. As for beef, about 40 thousand tons and about 50 thousand tons of chicken meat are imported to us annually.

Brazilian company JBS said Bio Tech Foods plans to gradually increase its production capacity to meet growing consumer demand and sees Australia, Brazil, the European Union, Japan, Singapore and the United States as key markets. Their cultured meat is produced from a sample of cells harvested from livestock and grown into tissue similar to that produced in the animal's body. Brazilian chicken and pork producer BRF has also ventured into the cultured meat sector with a $2,5 million investment in Israeli start-up Alef Farms in 2021.

Previously, the largest European group for the production of frozen food, the British corporation "Nomad Foods", announced that in cooperation with the American company "Blue Nalu" it will develop the production of seafood that will be grown from cells in laboratories. Their goal is the commercialization of laboratory-grown seafood to meet increasing demand, but also numerous requirements to preserve the long-term sustainability of natural habitats, Reuters reported, citing Tanjug. Otherwise, Europe is the largest importer of seafood in the world, according to the report of the European Union on the "blue economy". Thus, after meat, the production of other food from traditional factories is moving to laboratories, and more and more companies are planning to try themselves in that sector. The Guardian recently reported the opinion of the Good Food Institute (GFI) that there are still engineering challenges to be solved to reduce production costs.

Artificial meat is cheaper than natural?

Data from the Israeli company Future Meat shows that the cost of producing artificial chicken breast has almost halved in the past four months – from $7,50 to $4 – and that the price is expected to drop to $2 within a year and a half. . According to the report of this institute, in 2020, more than 300 million euros were invested in companies for cultured meat. They expect investment to grow only once this meat hits store shelves. The British newspaper states that some studies show that 80 percent of people in Great Britain and the United States are ready to consume meat produced in laboratories, especially the younger population.

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