A Russian lab, questionable meat, and demand for ‘exotic’ food.
It sounds like a recipe for coronavirus 2.0, doesn’t it?
After all, we’ve got to remember that the entire reason for this pandemic is dodgy food. A decision that has brought the entire world to a crippling standstill.
But it is precisely because of that, that the future of food is so important…
That’s where 3D Bioprinting Solutions comes into the picture. A subsidiary of Russia’s largest private medical outfit, Invitro.
Since 2013 this company has been working on its bioprinters. Devices that can actually create living tissue or organ-like solutions. Solutions that are already paving the way for new medical treatments.
As of today, 3D Bioprinting Solutions is no longer just a medical company though.
Now, they are also in the food business.
KFC has approached the company with the intention to design chicken nuggets. Not just any nuggets though. These nuggets are to be made from 3D-printed chicken cells.
As ZDNet reports:
‘The laboratory-produced chicken nuggets will be made up of tissues grown from chicken cells combined with plant material to replicate the taste and texture of typical chicken.’
Doesn’t sound all that appetising when you put it like that, does it?
If they can achieve this goal though, I guarantee it will be a success. Because as off-putting as the idea of lab-grown, 3D-printed meat may be to some — it is shaping up to be the future of food.
A new paradigm for a new era
Keep in mind, what KFC is doing isn’t exactly new either.
There are plenty of projects around the world working on the future of food. Be it plant-based, lab-grown, or even cellularly engineered.
The fact of the matter is, technology and food are colliding in new and exciting ways.
Even the world’s biggest food bureau — the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — is aware of that. Which is why last week they released a new report detailing the ‘blueprints’ for the future of food.
If you want to read it for yourself, you can do so here.
It’s not an overly long report and contains some interesting insights. At least, it does for anyone interested in where the FDA sees the food industry heading.
Even their opening remarks are extremely candid about the changes we can expect to see in the near future:
‘The world around us is changing rapidly, and we are in the midst of a food revolution. Many believe we will see more changes in the food system over the next 10 years than we have over the past several decades.
‘Foods are being reformulated, new foods and new food production methods are being realized, and the food system is becoming increasingly digitized.’
What I really want to highlight here is the idea of a holistic ‘food system’ too.
The FDA isn’t just talking about changes to the food itself. It is also about the ‘digitisation’ of how we grow, manage, deliver, and track this food as well. Aspects of the industry that are often overlooked, but still very important to most consumers.
For example, thanks to COVID-19, the integrity of food and food security have become very important once more. People want to know where their food has come from and know that it is safe to consume.
Nowhere is this more evident than in China. But it applies to almost any major developed country in the world too.
Food can no longer just be accessible; it also must be accountable.
Paddock-to-plate versus lab-to-lap
Coming back to the subject of 3D-printed and lab-grown meat, accountability is everything.
See, right now, ‘organic’ is arguably the dominant paradigm for food. People seem to have latched onto this desire for more natural products.
At least, that’s the premise behind it.
And I get it, the idea of produce plucked straight from the field and delivered to your plate as fast as humanly possible is a tantalising one. Everyone enjoys and wants more fresh food.
That’s why sales of organic food topped $97 billion worldwide in 2017. It isn’t just a trend of the food industry, it dominates it.
For that reason, it’s no surprise that lab-grown meat has seen some resistance. Hell, even some plant-based products have drawn the ire of the organic crowd.
Why? Because they see the process of making these food products as ‘unnatural’.
It is an extension of a longstanding and ongoing debate around food science. The advancement of pesticides, genetic modification, and other innovations has spooked many. Fears that have been perpetuated by the questionable actions of companies like Monsanto.
I don’t want to get stuck into that can of worms right now though.
All I’ll say is that Monsanto certainly deserves some of the criticism it gets, but not necessarily all.
It is, however, time for all of us to move on. The debate over organic agriculture versus conventional agriculture and now future agriculture is irrelevant in my view.
All three will play a role in the food industry for years to come. But it is the latter, the realm of lab-grown, 3D-printed chicken nuggets that will change our relationship with food the most.
Not only giving us the ability to design food like never before, but also make it far more secure.
Because no matter how you feel about the idea of food from a lab, you can’t deny the process. It will be highly curated and refined. Containing little to no risk of contamination from a crop, or disease from livestock.
In a way it is the perfect food. If we can make it.
And for that reason, it is an industry that every investor needs to be aware of. Because when the time comes, the way we produce food will never be the same again.
Editor, Money Morning
Ryan is also the Editor of Australian Small-Cap Investigator, a stock tipping newsletter that hunts down promising small-cap stocks. For information on how to subscribe and see what Ryan’s telling subscribers right now, click here.
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