Japanese scientists whet their appetite for lab-grown Wagyu beef
TOKYO, Oct. 8 (Reuters) – Japan’s famous Wagyu beef, a delicacy that can cost over $ 200 a pound at some of the best restaurants, could become much more affordable in the form of a lab-grown replica.
Japanese scientists say they’ve successfully recreated the Wagyu, famed for its oily mottling, in a lab to produce something that could possibly look and taste like real steak.
Wagyu beef comes from a breed of black cattle, primarily cultivated in the Kobe region of western Japan.
Osaka University researchers led by Michiya Matsusaki used 3D bio-printers and bovine stem cells to replicate Wagyu’s distinctive marbling in a solid steak-like piece, rather than a minced shape that characterized other attempts at cultured meat.
It currently takes about three to four weeks to generate a cubic centimeter of cultured meat, so it’s not yet ready for the grocer’s aisle. But as techniques and efficiency improve, the method could produce something that mimics reality, Matsusaki said.
“If we are able to quickly produce a lot of meat from a few cells, there is a chance that we can better respond to food and protein shortage issues in the future,” Matsusaki told Reuters.
Environmental and ethical concerns around the meat industry have sparked interest in plant-based alternatives and the potential of laboratory-grown products. This has spurred strong growth from developers of genuine alternatives to meat, including plant-based burger maker Impossible Foods Inc, which is gearing up for a public listing that could exceed $ 10 billion, according to sources. Read more
Matsusaki said the bioprinting and cultivation techniques developed in his lab could also have applications in human medicine, such as growing replacements for damaged muscles.
It now takes around 10,000 yen ($ 89.40) to produce a single gram of lab-grown Wagyu, but with more automation the price could drop such that it would be marketable to the general public here. five years, Matsusaki said.
($ 1 = 111.8600 yen)
Reporting by Rikako Murayama and Akira Tomoshige; Written by Rocky Swift in Tokyo; Editing by Susan Fenton
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