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APAC Cellular Agriculture announces MOU

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Food products grown directly from animal cells will officially be termed “cultivated”, following leading APAC cellular agriculture stakeholders reaching agreement and signing of an memorandum of understanding at a regional symposium in Singapore.

Magic Valley team LR: Andrew Laslett, Jacob Goodwin, and Paul Bevan Australian food tech company Magic Valley has signed a regional MOU to use the term
Magic Valley team LR: Andrew Laslett, Jacob Goodwin, and Paul Bevan Australian.

Australian industry organizations Food Frontier and Cellular Agriculture Australia and cultivated meat company Magic Valley joined more than 30 key industry participants for the memorandum of understanding (MOU). It means the region will be aligned on using the term “cultivated” as the preferred English-language descriptor for food products grown directly from animal cells.

Food Frontier CEO Jane Sydenham-Clarke said, “As emerging protein innovations inch closer to market launch in our region, it’s fantastic to see unity amongst the APAC cellular agriculture sector around what these foods will be called.

“Food Frontier’s work is focused on building public understanding and trust in new foods like cultivated meat and having shared language across the sector helps us collectively carry that message to all stakeholders.”

APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture President Dr. Sandhya Sriram and Program Manager Peter Yu said: “Nomenclature and regulatory harmonization are vital for the long-term success of the cultivated foods industry and this MOU establishes a regional precedent that can be replicated in other markets around the globe.”

The Good Food Institute (GFI) APAC said signatories included nearly every cultivated food start-up in Asia Pacific, including those dedicated to meat, seafood, dairy, and animal fat.

The MOU’s goal is to reduce the risk of miscommunication between regulatory bodies and stakeholders, and for signatories to “align on clear, science-based messaging strategies, so that products cultivated from animal cells can reach their full potential to improve food security, mitigate environmental degradation, and alleviate global poverty”.

Regional coalition groups including the APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture, China’s Cellular Agriculture Alliance, the Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture, and Korean Society for Cellular Agriculture also signed the MOU.

Others included Future Ready Food Safety Hub (FRESH) – the organization jointly launched by the Singapore Food Agency, A*STAR, and Nanyang Technological University – and multinationals Cargill and Thai Union.

“Importantly, it is also a scientifically accurate term that clearly distinguishes foods that are cultivated from animal cells from other existing products in the marketplace,” the MOU said.

The announcement was made in Singapore during Singapore International Agri-Food Week (SIAW), with Good Food Institute APAC managing director Mirte Gosker saying the location of the announcement was no coincidence.

“In recent years, Singapore has invested the necessary resources to make the city-state a welcoming ecosystem for food innovation and multilateral collaboration.

“This MOU is the latest proof that the Lion City is trading its traditional reliance on food imports for a new role as the place where the alternative protein sector’s biggest decisions are forged, announced, and exported to the world,” Gosker said.

Singapore is the world’s first cultivated meat market and has been a global leader in cultured meat development, largely due to necessity.

The country imports 90 per cent of its food but in 2019, set up the 30-by-30 goal of aiming to make the country 30 per cent self-sufficient by 2030 through new food production technologies – like cultured meat, vertical farming, and aquaculture.

In 2020, the Singapore Food Agency was the first in the world to approve a cultivated meat – US-based Eat Just’s cultured chicken nuggets – saying the product met its food safety standards and was safe for human consumption.

GFI APAC said the country had played a key role as a test bed for novel foods.

“The Republic has actively shared its novel food experiences as part of multinational initiatives driven by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Codex Alimentarius Commission – a joint body of the FAO and World Health Organization dedicated to developing global food standard ,” he said.

LR: Vow co-founder and CEO George Peppou, New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean, Vow co-founder Tim Noakesmith.  Australian cultured meat start-up Vow has opened the first of two planned cultured meat facilities, with its first commercial product on track for launch in Singapore by then end of the year.  (Picture: Vow)
LR: Vow co-founder and CEO George Peppou,
New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean,
Vow co-founder Tim Noakesmith.

The Australian cultivated meat industry is small but dynamic. VOW recently opened its first commercial facility, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, with a second one already underway that will be around 100 times the scale of the first. It looks set to launch its first commercial product in Singapore by the end of the year.

And in September, Magic Valley announced it had created a cultivated lamb meat prototype.