January 5, 2021
Mitsubishi in partnership to introduce artificial beef in Japan
Mitsubishi Corp. will partner with Israel's Aleph Farms Ltd. to begin bringing lab-grown beef to Japan.
Both companies will work on tailoring Aleph's beef - grown in vats from muscle cells of living animals - to the tastes and nuances of Japanese consumers and regulatory bodies, Aleph CEO Didier Toubia said in an interview. They would then use Mitsubishi's manufacturing capabilities to scale up production and distribution, he added.
Aleph, whose investors include US food giant Cargill Inc., plans to sell its initial batch of lab-grown meat to consumers in Asia next year, with Japan being "high on the list" of target countries, Toubia said.
Toubia declined to provide further details about the companies' arrangement or plans to obtain regulatory approval. Mitsubishi spokespeople declined to comment.
Aleph is among some 60 startups jockeying to sell meat or poultry that bypass the abattoir and modern, industrial-scale farming, and countries are starting to open pathways to consumers.
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi, which had US$15.6 billion in food sales in the 12 months through March, is tapping an industry that's expected to grow.
The cell-based meat market is projected to reach US$140 billion in the next decade, according to forecasts compiled by Blue Horizon Corp., which invests in alternative proteins.