Around one fifth of the meat produced globally is fed to pets. What if it was grown in labs? In the UK, it soon will be
“As fit as a… food scientist’s dog,” said nobody, ever. But soon they might do – this week a company launched to bring lab-grown pet food to market in the UK.
For all the joy they bring, pets have a sizeable impact on the environment. It’s estimated that around one fifth of the meat produced globally is fed to domesticated animals, meaning Fido is unwittingly contributing to climate change and biodiversity loss.
But not for much longer, perhaps. Two disruptors in the field of food technology have launched a business to bring cultivated pet food to UK shelves. Cultivated meat is grown in labs from cells without the need to raise and slaughter animals.
The upstart firm, dubbed Good Dog Food, is a joint venture between Agronomics and Roslin Technologies.
Its chairman, Jim Mellon, said: “As a dog owner I have been looking for high-quality meat alternatives to provide to my dogs. An untapped sector of the agricultural market is the production of pet food via cellular agriculture. We are delighted to be able to announce our first joint venture in the cultivated meat field, to focus on the production of cultivated pet food.”
Lab-grown meat for human consumption has already made it to market in Singapore, where diners can eat chicken, safe in the knowledge that no animal was harmed in the process.
Compared with conventional chicken, the stuff in Singapore needs 78 per cent less water, 95 per cent less land, and emits 92 per cent fewer CO2 emissions, according to Eat Just, the firm behind it.
With livestock accounting for an estimated 14.5 per cent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, there is an urgent need to take conventional meat off the menu.
However, whether lab-grown meat is the answer remains to be seen. Cost and scalability are major hurdles for the industry – lab-grown meat is still significantly more expensive than the regular stuff and harder to produce in significant quantities.
There is also the issue of regulatory approval, although this should be easier for pet food. Whether the pooch approves is another matter.
Main image: James Barker