WASHINGTON — The Good Food Institute (GFI) sees the growing momentum behind cultivated meat as evidence of a potential future for “meat without the animal,” according to GFI’s 2022 State of the Industry Report on cultivated meat and seafood.

The forecast comes in part from a flurry of new companies and investments in the cultivated meat sector. Nearly 20 new cultivated meat companies were publicly announced in 2022, bringing the total number of dedicated companies to 156. A number of diversified companies also entered the segment through partnerships and research agreements with cultivated meat producers, such as ADM and Eat Just, Inc.’s development agreement for cultivated chicken.

Multiple startups have unveiled plans for production facilities in the United States, further signaling growth in the sector. In March, Fork and Good said it would open a pilot facility in Jersey City that initially will focus on cultivated ground pork with potential expansions into other types of meat. Believer Meats broke ground in December on its 200-000-square-foot plant that will be able to produce more than 10,000 tonnes of cultivated meat. The company intends to invest more than $120 million into the facility, expected to open in 2024, along with a $500,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund.

“These steps pave the way for cultivated meat to come to market in the US at scale and helps ensure as many consumers as possible have access to these groundbreaking products,” said Liz Specht, vice president of science and technology at GFI. “Further government investment like this will advance the sector toward commercialization, helping to feed a growing population more sustainably, spurring economic growth, and improving environmental and global health outcomes.”

Additional public funding has come from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) through a $5 million appropriation toward alternative protein research, and California has committed $5 million to alternative proteins. The USDA’s investment is targeted broadly at the entire alternative protein segment, while California’s allocation will go to three of its state universities, two of which are focused on cultivated meat research.

However, venture capital investment in alternative proteins (categorized as plant-based, cultivated and fermentation) slowed significantly from 2021 to 2022, according to the report. Total investment in the sector fell to $2.9 billion from roughly $5 billion, and investment in cultivated meat decelerated 33% to $896 million from $1.3 billion. Nearly half of 2022 cultivated meat investments come from a $400 million Series C funding round for Upside Foods.

The decline marks the first year-to-year decrease in total investments for the alternative protein sector since 2016. Plant-based alternatives saw their second straight year of declining investment amid difficulties with taste, texture and quality. Consumer confusion around plant-based ingredient labels and health benefits additionally led to most plant-based meats declining in penetration.

Within alternative proteins, the report found precision fermentation fell from the second most annual investments since 2013 to the least invested category in 2022 (from $1.7 billion in 2021 to $842 million in 2022). Cultivated meats, previously the least invested category annually, replaced precision fermentation with $896 million in 2022.

Regulatory changes

Cultivated meats also gained significant ground regarding regulations. In November 2022, Upside Foods became the first cultivated meat company to receive a “No Questions” letter from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While the company’s cultivated chicken is now generally recognized as safe by the FDA, Upside Foods will still need to secure USDA approval before it can begin marketing its product, as cultivated meats are jointly regulated by both agencies.

“This is a watershed moment in the history of food,” said Uma Valeti, founder and chief executive officer of Upside Foods. “This milestone marks a major step toward a new era in meat production, and I’m thrilled that US consumers will soon have the chance to eat delicious meat that’s grown directly from animal cells.”

Eat Just’s cultivated meat brand, GOOD Meat, also received an FDA “No Questions” letter in March 2023. The company is similarly awaiting USDA approval before commercial sales can begin.

Further regulatory support has come from President Joe Biden, who issued an executive order in September directing the USDA and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to assess how biotechnology and biomanufacturing may be used for cultivated meat.

Both cultivated meats and plant-based alternatives have found pushback among several state legislatures. Missouri, Louisiana and Oklahoma have all passed laws that limit the use of words like “meat,” “burger” and “sausage” to products that come from livestock, poultry or other harvested animal carcasses, citing potential confusion for consumers.

Some of these laws have been successfully challenged as First Amendment violations in federal courts, though, including most recently in Louisiana and earlier in Arkansas. Missouri’s law has been upheld twice, by a district court in 2019 and a federal court in 2021, and a federal case against the Oklahoma law is currently pending.

“We continue to see this battle out in the courts, and I don’t see it coming to any conclusion until the FDA has the resources and the guidance comes out,” said Stefanie Fogel, co-chair of the FDA regulatory group for global law firm DLA Piper. “That will help dictate how this gets handled in front of judges.”


The GFI has identified several additional factors that may spur growth in the cultivated meat sector as it enters a critical development period during the next few years.

For instance, more than 70 diversified companies entered the market in 2022, creating potential for a more mature supply chain of cultivated meat inputs like bioreactors, cell culture media and cell lines. This improved supply chain will require less vertical integration for end-product startups and decrease production costs.

“Availability of industry-specific products and services is beginning to increase, and this accelerates progress among the product-focused cultivated meat companies,” said Friederike Grosse-Holz, director of investing firm Blue Horizon. “Such inputs will de-bottleneck scale-up and cost-down. The biggest bottleneck to growth will be the ability of teams to plan with the volatile economic situation and lower capital availability.”

Additional growth factors include younger consumers’ willingness to try cultivated meat, 60% among ages 18 to 34, and cultivated meat’s ability to bridge the taste and texture gap that plant-based alternatives are yet to overcome.

There are causes for concern around the category’s future, though. Unlike younger consumers, other age groups have received cultivated meats less positively. One study found that 60% of baby boomers were unwilling to try the products, and a government-sponsored survey in the United Kingdom found 59% of consumers would not like to try “lab-grown meat.”

Limited supply of critical inputs, particularly bioreactors, also has created a large price parity between cultivated meat products and their traditional counterparts. If the parity cannot be decreased, consumers will be hard-pressed to integrate cultivated meats into their diets.

“Lab-grown (meat) says this is exactly like its traditional counterpart, but it's not alive,” said Rob Dongoski, founder of EY’s Global Agribusiness Center. “If it’s exactly like it, it won’t drive a price premium. We've got to get that to cost parity or below in order to really even see if consumers will buy it.”