Don’t be too surprised if you sit down at a restaurant sometime this year and find lab-grown meat on the menu.
Josh Tetrick — the CEO of JUST, a manufacturer of lab-grown in vitro meat — told CNN that you can expect to see “clean meat” in some U.S. and Asian restaurants by the end of 2018.
Tetrick said that “clean” chicken nuggets and sausage will be offered to the public first.
He added that his company “can make chicken that tastes as good as the best chicken on the planet.” And don’t worry, meat-lovers: He assured the Los Angeles Times that “it’s not plant-based; it’s 100 percent meat.”
The 37-year-old believes it’s important to emphasize that fact.
“I can’t imagine the people I was raised with in Birmingham, Alabama, under any scenario choosing a plant-based hamburger,” he told The Guardian. “It’s an identity thing.”
It appears that many Americans would be willing to give his concoction a try.
A study published in the journal PLOS One found that 65 percent of people in the U.S. would “definitely” or “probably” try meat that scientists grew in a laboratory. Only 8.5 percent of people ruled out ever trying some of the “clean meat.”
But that doesn’t mean everyone would forgo conventional meat. Just over 31 percent of people said they would be willing to opt for in vitro meat over protein from a once-living animal.
Thirty percent said they “probably” or “definitely” wouldn’t, while 26.3 percent said they weren’t sure.
There’s another potential problem looming for entrepreneurs like Tetrick, too, according to the study.
Just under 15 percent of respondents signaled that they would be willing to pay more for lab-grown meat. And 40 percent said they would want to pay less, while everyone else said both should be the same price.
Mark Post, CEO of Mosa Meats, another “clean meat” company,” sold his first hamburger in 2013 for a whopping $330,000, according to CNN. He said that he now plans to price them at “maybe $11” whenever his products go public.
Post told CNN that it takes around nine weeks to grow a patty, which involves taking cells from an animal and growing them in a lab.
Another issue could be backlash from some in the meat industry. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February about “fake meat.”
It said that products grown in a lab or made from insects and plants shouldn’t be labeled as meat.
“We look forward to working with the [USDA] to rectify the misleading labeling of “beef” products that are made with plant or insect protein or grown in a petri dish,” USCA president Kenny Graner said in a statement following the petition. “U.S. cattle producers take pride in developing the highest quality, and safest, beef in the world, and labels must clearly distinguish that difference.”
Tetrick warned The Guardian that such challenges are to be expected, saying there will be “gnarly problems, communication issues, regulatory issues” as he and others fight to make their products more accepted and normalized.