Wildtype food for thought #4

Winter edition, part 4 of 5: white space

Producing great food at scale requires much more than growing cells. It requires an iterative process of prototyping and refinement, industrial process design and facility development, sound supply chains, and quality assurance. In this post, we outline a value chain for the cell-based meat and fish industry and highlight a few white space opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Chart showing the growth trajectory of a cultivated meat companies

In the graphic above, we propose a value chain that will be required to bring cell-based meat to market at scale. This is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to identify the variety of disciplines and capabilities that will be required to support our field.

The value chain is long, and we suggested in our last post that there are fewer than 150 people who are working on developing these products full time. That means that we can’t be doing everything equally well. So, where are companies focusing today given that we can’t, and indeed shouldn’t, do everything at once?

Chart showing the value chain of a cultivated meat company

We’ve color coded this graphic to highlight those areas where today’s cell-based fish and meat companies are building the deepest capabilities. This isn’t to say that we don’t spend time thinking about the white boxes, but our impression is that many companies today are focused on building significant expertise in the green and, to a lesser extent, the orange steps.

So, what should we do about the other areas?

We believe these areas represent opportunities for new companies to develop products and services or for established companies to support the cell-based meat industry.

packaging slide

Above, we’ve highlighted three of the white spaces from the previous infographic and provide a few ideas of services that our field needs today, or will need in the near future.

Additionally, we’ve provided a few logos of companies that are in adjacent businesses today, and that might provide services to our field.

We won’t go through all of these examples, but let us cover just one — packaging.

Given that we have the opportunity to fundamentally redefine the means of production for meat and fish products, shouldn’t packaging also evolve? Should we use the same packaging that is used today in the meat and fish aisle at our grocery stores? Or should we dream up something fresh that fits the profile of our products’ unique methods of production?

Given that our products might be produced aseptically and could conceivably be shipped without ice (by the way, this would be a game changer), how should we be shipping meat and fish to restaurants and food service providers in the future?

These are opportunities not only for entrepreneurs, but also for established design companies like Landor that have an eye for cutting edge design. Companies like Sealed Air that currently supply a significant share of our meat packaging today, and household names like Ball (mason jars, anyone?) now have opportunities to expand into a rapidly growing field.

Our point is that there are still ample opportunities for both entrepreneurs and established companies to support our field in a meaningful way.

In our next and final post of this winter series, we’ll explore the trends that are reshaping how we make, buy, choose, and monitor our food, with a focus on what these trends mean for the cell-based meat field.

If you missed the previous posts in this series, please see the business case for cell-based meat, supply and demand, and talent. As always, we welcome your thoughts on any of the ideas we present here, so feel free to say hello.

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