Guest: Brett Thompson | Co-Founder & CEO | Mzansi Meat
Category: 🍏 Sustainable Food | Cultivated Meat
Podcast’s Essential Bites:
[23:29] BT: “I was looking at the leading causes of death in South Africa over the last 10 years and [...] who are the people with a lot of shorter life expectancy [...]. Up until about 1984 was white men. [...] South Africa is about [...] 85% black and mixed race and [...] then you've got 10-15%, which is white. [...] Then you've seen this rapid rise in the black middle class in South Africa and [...] mass urbanization. [...] You had this changeover and this increase in wealth and also in access to meat etc., [so] you started seeing this flip towards black men being the ones getting the heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer, which [...] showcases the people's desire for meat.”
[33:46] BT: “I had my own reservations of cultivated meat: that first burger 2013 that was $250,000 for one patty, the feasibility, [...] which I still think is there's some difficult things that we have to achieve as a company and as an industry. [...] This is not taking plant protein and making it taste like burgers. There's a hell of a lot more to do. [...] [However there was] opportunity to actually take something like cultivated meat into the African context and [...] put the African continent on the map when it comes to food tech. And then also seeing that there needs to be a bouquet of solutions to food. I don't think plant based is the only solution."
[37:50] BT: “We are trying to replicate the process of making meat without the need for the animal and definitely not the need for the animal to be killed. [...] [And] we start [...] by taking a small biopsy from a cow. Our focus is bovine at the moment and beef, but we'll probably think about others going forward. [...] We take that biopsy, we then bring it back to our facility and lab in a place called Woodstock [...] in Cape Town. And then it's just about isolating the cells. [...] Then we [...] basically just perfectly replicate [...] the conditions that are found in an animal's body and we do it outside of the body.”
[40:46] BT: "We have bioreactors [...] [and] a cultivated meat company at scale, which we're moving towards, roughly looks like a brewery. [...] Those cells duplicate, duplicate, duplicate, duplicate and after three to four weeks, we are then able to harvest the muscle and fat as you would when it comes from a cow. [...] And then we blend the products with plant protein and spices etc. that you find in your normal burgers. [...] From cell to burger, that process when optimized can take between three to four weeks.”
[59:08] BT: "There's 70 billion animals that are killed every year on land. There's a trillion [...] taken from the marine. [...] It's destructive to those animals [...] and it's definitely destructive to the environment and potentially for people as well in terms of their health. [...] If you've got an opportunity to choose between something that was cultivated from an animal or from cells that tastes exactly the same, it tastes delicious, and it's on your plate and it's the same price [...] versus something that contributed to a system, which I described [...], I think most people would choose the one where it came from a different [...] and an innovative source than the one that we know now."