Who doesn’t love burgers? A vegetarian’s nightmare and a carnivore’s go-to meal. Unfortunately, we may be reaching a point where it is no longer sustainable to feed our population with beef.
Livestock’s role in climate change and air pollution now exceeds that of the transport industry, with 9%, 35-40% and 65% of the total global emissions of CO2, CH4 and N2O, respectively, coming directly from livestock and agriculture. 
With that in mind, we should even be more worried about the future, where it is expected that global demand for beef will increase twofold by 2050. 
According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science, the process of producing 1 pound of beef produces the same CO2 as a European car every 70 miles, and requires the same energy to light a 100 watt bulb for nearly 10 days.
In addition, Eschel et al. 2014 estimated that producing beef requires 28 times more land, 6 times more fertilizer and 11 times more water than producing pork or chicken. Current practices are leading to further deforestation, loss of habitat for our ecosystem, degradation of land and depletion of scarce water resources.
Enter the solution – Memphis Meats. Memphis Meats is a startup that aims to tackle all these threats by manufacturing lab-grown meat. Its lab-grown meat consumes 90% less water and land, as well as 50% less energy and emits just 4% of the greenhouses gases that current meat growing practices emit. The supply chain is much simpler compared to ‘regular’ beef patties, the comparisons shown below:
Figure 1 – How In-Vitro Burgers Are Grown 
Now don’t get me wrong – we are still a long way away from being able to fully realize the potential of lab-grown meat. Memphis Meats has gone from 18,000 USD per pound of beef to 2,400 USD over the past 2 years; but that still pales in comparison to 4 USD for store-bought beef. 
As a result, there are several short-term and long-term goals that Memphis Meats is focusing on :
- Short term:
- Aim to have competitively priced products in the market by 2020, at a price of 10 USD per burger
- Increase the size of the team as more research and development is needed to achieve the ambitious goals that have been set
- Figure out a method to utilize bioreactors for upscale production. Current bioreactor capacity limits can only feed 10,000 people at best, and these bioreactors are not even specifically designed for the production process of lab-grown meat
- Involve leading experts to enhance knowledge of the products and advertise their potential viability to replace products, with significant upside for climate change and taste concerns
- Long term:
- Find blood-free alternatives to replace the blood serums that are currently used to ‘culture’ the meat in the lab. There is only so much blood serum that exists from current cattle that it would be impossible to meet the goal of replacing all forms of regular meat
- Move away from producing just burgers and nuggets to industry-accepted meat types such as steaks and ribs
In terms of other key issues that Memphis Meats needs to address, there seems to be a lack of involvement of established industry partners, as most companies operating in the space are start-ups that may or may not succeed without the support of industry giants. 
This would enable start-ups to leverage research and development as well as downstream access in distribution channels.
If all else fails, there needs to be immediate attention placed on the supply chain and distribution channels for lab-grown meat, specifically :
- Outsource the significant inputs of cell culture media rather than produce in-house
- Involve governmental organizations to provide energy for production, with clean energy a key objective to enhance the wholesome cleanliness of the industry
- Develop robust systems and procedures to ensure the safety and consistency of production; this is a new industry that will require as much positive ‘buzz’ around it as possible since there is likely to be small uptake initially
- Be more transparent with consumers, who will have concerns if there is a lack of transparency in the production method. The fact of the matter is, there are several players competing in the space and there needs to be greater communication among the players if they are to deliver on this ‘promise’ of clean, healthy meat for the consumer.
Finally, my main worry to the class is whether we think there will be enough community support given the availability of cheaper meat for at least the next 10 years. A lack of interest would deter future capital investors, and then there is the possibility that industry players will lobby against this technology. Thus, is this even remotely possible?
 Steinfeld, H., Gerber, P., Wassenaar, T., Castel, V., Rosales, M., and de Haan, C. (2006). “Livestock’s Long Shadow” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
 Ranganathan, J., Vennard, D., Waite, R., Dumas, P., Lipinski, B., Searchinger, T., (2016). “Shifting Diets for a Sustainable Food Future” World Resources Institute
 Bittman, Mark. “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler.” New York Times, January 27, 2008. [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html], accessed November 2017.
 Eshel, G., Shepon, A., Makov, T., Milo, R., “Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
 Addady, M., “You Could Be Eating Lab-Grown Meat in Just Five Years.” Fortune, February 2, 2016. [http://fortune.com/2016/02/02/lab-grown-memphis-meats/], accessed November 2017.
 Michael Specter, “Test-Tube Burgers,” The New Yorker, May 23, 2011.
 Reilly, R., “Lab-grown burgers ‘will be on the menu by 2020’: Scientists set up company to make stem cell meat an affordable reality.” Daily Mail, October 16, 2015. [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3275913/Lab-grown-burgers-menu-2020-Scientists-set-company-make-stem-cell-meat-affordable-reality.html], accessed November 2017.
 Bunge, J., “Cargill Invests in Startup That Grows ‘Clean Meat’ From Cells.” The Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2017. [https://www.wsj.com/articles/cargill-backs-cell-culture-meat-1503486002], accessed November 2017.
 “Are You A Genetic Superhero”, BBC Focus (August 2016)
 Ireland, T., “The artificial meat factory – the science of your synthetic supper.” Science Focus, August 25, 2017. [http://www.sciencefocus.com/article/future/artificial-meat-factory], accessed November 2017.
 Specht, L., Lagally, C. (2017). “Mapping Emerging Industries: Opportunities in Clean Meat” The Good Food Institute
 Mattick, C., Landis, A., Allenby, B., Genovese, N. (2015) “Anticipatory Life Cycle Analysis of In Vitro Biomass Cultivation for Cultured Meat Production in the United States” American Chemical Society