It’s been a tough year for large-scale farmed meat production projects. In May 2022, another California startup, Eat Just, announced its plans to build 10 large bioreactors with a capacity of 250,000 liters, along with bioreactor firm ABEC. The contract fell apart, with ABEC subsequent filings An amended legal complaint in federal court alleges more than $61 million in unpaid invoices.

Lack of large amounts of funding leaves companies in a chicken-or-the-egg situation, Chow says. Farmed meat is still more expensive than conventional meat, so investors want to see proof that startups can lower costs before moving to large factories. But it can be difficult for startups to prove they can grow meat on a large scale without these large factories.

Chow expects more companies to scale up in a “staged” manner, gradually trying to demonstrate scalable production with larger facilities rather than jumping straight into huge meat factories.

Upside appears to be adapting by focusing on its Emeryville plant rather than the Illinois facility. In his email, Valletti told staff that the expanded Emeryville facility could have the same capacity as the initial phase of the Illinois factory with a similar commercial launch date.

“The cost of doing so would be significantly less than building the first phase of Rubicon,” Welty wrote. “Our focus and execution will be aided by team, learning and leveraging existing infrastructure.” [the Emeryville facility]. Collaboration with the rest of our team will also enable more efficient tech transfer.

Steve Molino, an investor in sustainable food venture capital firm Clearcurrent Capital, praised Upside for its decision to turn away from its Illinois plant and focus on Emeryville. “This is what every company should do,” he says. “Before they make these big capital expenditures and big investments, they should try to maximize that time.”

Upside’s Emeryville facility, which opened in November 2021, is nicknamed Epic — short for Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center. At its launch, the company said it had a Future capacity of over 400,000 Pounds of meat harvested each year. In September 2023, one Wired investigation revealed that Upside’s textured chicken fillets, which he recently served at a Monthly dinner series at Bar Crane In San Francisco, Epic was not made in large bioreactors inside but rather on a much smaller scale in two-liter roller bottles.

Although the funding environment for cultured meat companies is still bleak, there are some signs that the industry is moving forward. In January, Israel became only the third country to grant regulatory approval. Cultured meat. In December 2023, Australia and New Zealand’s joint food safety regulator began the process of approving meat grown from cultured quail cells from startup firm Vow.

However, the technology has drawn pushback from lawmakers. Florida And Arizona, where bills have been introduced that, if passed, would ban the sale of cultured meat. In America, this move has been made after the vote of the Italian Parliament. Ban cultured meat. products in the country, despite the fact that they are not on sale anywhere within the EU. In his email to staffers, Valletti wrote that “critics are trying to spell our death and ban our industry in its infancy.”

With the industry still in its early days and venture capital funding tight, Molino welcomes a more step-by-step approach to scaling cultured meat rather than betting big on sprawling meat factories. “I think it’s great news for the upside and the space,” he says. “It seems more logical, more reasonable, well planned and thought out.”

Updated 2-16-2024 10:30 pm GMT: Corrected the spelling of Melissa Musiker’s name.