In October 2022, Czech cultivated pork startup Mewery announced it had obtained the proof of concept for growing mammalian cells using microalgae growth factors instead of fetal bovine serum.
Just a few months later, after proving the feasibility of its cultivation process, Mewery announces the successful development of a cultivated pork prototype using its proprietary microalgae-based growth medium. An important milestone for the company, which claims that its medium saves 70% of the costs compared to conventional FBS methods, bridging the price parity challenge with animal meat.
This development, according to the company, is the world’s first cultivated pork prototype consisting of 100% cells —75% pork and 25% microalgae cells — contrasting with many prototypes that rely on plant proteins for texture and consistency, says Mewery.
Why pork and microalgae?
Founded in 2020 by Roman Lauš, Mewery, received backing from US accelerator Big Idea Ventures to develop cultivated pork, one of the most consumed types of meat in Europe but most of all in China, and other parts of Asia.
Mewery, the first European food tech to develop cultivated pork meat using microalgae, says these microorganisms (microalgae) have a nutritional advantage, enriching the products with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fibre, and antioxidants, creating nutritionally optimal meat products.
The food tech is also working on cell line optimization, developing other growth factors and bioprocesses adapted to large-capacity bioreactors needed to upscale and for further commercialisation.
“We already have several variants of media that work for us without animal products and which we continue to work with. It is like a cookbook,” Lauš said in a statement.
First products by 2025
Hoping that the EU and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will follow the US soon, the company aims to launch its first products, which will likely be pork sausages and meatballs, by 2025.
Meanwhile, the company said it will seek additional funding to work on a biobank cell repository to cultivate more pork meat types.
“Now we are working intensively on establishing our own biobank, which is a repository of cells from which we can cultivate more meat.
“In this way, we want to ensure a more or less unlimited source of pig cells, which will move us closer to large-scale production. The increase in the volume of cultivation in large-capacity cultivators is directly related to this and should happen already this year,” Lauš added.