Czech startup debuts ground-breaking burger made from lab-grown meat

The prototype, however, can't be served to domestic customers as the Czech Republic doesn't sanction sales of artificial meat. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.07.2023 11:02:00 (updated on 01.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech startup Mewery introduced what it claims is the world's first pork burger made from cell-cultured meat a the Rock for People festival in Hradec Králové last month.

Company founder Roman Lauš presented the food-tech startup's burger, which is created by combining pig cells with microalgae, at his "Food of the Future" talk (Lauš's band Mean Daddies also took to the festival stage) on June 11.

"We did our research to make it not just an ordinary burger. Beef burgers are most often made, but pork burgers are an exception. This is what we specialize in in our development. That's why we decided to make a specialty that will turn our burger into a novel food, a new type of food that is unique in the world," said Lauš. 

The startup currently faces restrictions in serving its prototype to Czech consumers, as only Singapore and the United States allow the sale of artificial meat. Mewery aims to enter these markets within the next few years as the market for cell-cultured meat sees rapid growth, with companies like Upside Foods and Good Meat already obtaining permission to sell lab-grown chicken meat in the U.S.

Mewery was only able to show the latest prototype on stage, as its consumption is not yet legally possible in Czechia. Despite the restrictions 90 percent of participants expressed interest in trying the burger. Lauš said that the meat has an excellent taste, surpassing that of traditional plant-based burgers.

Mewery has also made progress in reducing the price of the culture medium to EUR 8 per liter, enabling larger-scale testing and further development of its products' texture and taste. The startup is collaborating with the Czech government on test tastings, which could be possible as early as next year.

"This is a new direction in the development of cultivators, which we are testing in our laboratories, and it is suitable for the cultivation of meat. There are only very expensive and complicated cultivators designed for the pharmaceutical industry on the market. It is therefore necessary to come up with a new, simpler, and cheaper solution for the food industry. That is why we are helping several startups test and optimize this new type of cultivator, ” Lauš said in a news release.

Lauš believes that the Czech Republic, following the Netherlands, could be the second EU country to accelerate the introduction of alternative proteins. However, it may take several years for European Union legislation to allow the sale of cultured meat to end customers, prompting Mewery to prioritize the American and Asian markets.

Mewery's mission is to combat climate change by producing cultured pork without the need to slaughter animals. Lauš highlighted that currently, 48 pigs are killed every second worldwide, amounting to 1.5 billion animals annually, and the meat industry contributes to 14.5 percent of global emissions.

By utilizing their unique culture medium based on microalgae and co-cultivating pig cells, Mewery aims to significantly reduce these numbers while offering nutritional benefits previously unattainable.

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