We justifiably pride ourselves on the quality and nutritional value of pasture-fed beef that is efficiently produced from lush green pastures
Imagine succulent steaks, with just the right amount of marbling to add real flavour, sizzling on the barbecue.  Find yourself salivating?

Well that could be about to change in a move from US company Modern Meadow.

Their name does not give a hint at how they want to change the world.  “Modern meadow” has nothing to do with new pasture grasses aimed at reducing the 34% of our greenhouse gas emissions from methane and nitrous oxide laden animal flatulence.

No, their modern meadow is the output tray on a computer-driven 3D printer using artificial protein as the ink.

Print a steak for the BBQ?

Print a steak for the BBQ?

Want a steak?  Just a minute and I’ll just print you one!

Supported by the wealth-creation expectations of venture capitalists, Modern Meadow has announced a fundamentally new approach to meat production.  Based on new engineering advances that build tissue and organ structures using animal stem cells, it is seen as an alternative to traditional meat that “causes no harm to animals.”  Co-founder Andras Forgacs has criticised the overall cost of traditional agricultural practices used to farm animals.  He said: “If you look at the resource intensity of everything that goes into a hamburger, it is an environmental train wreck.”  His 3D printing technology ensures a ‘consistent shape’ while post-printing processes will include maturation in a bio-reactor.

Not quite a ‘printer to plate’ solution to the world’s food supply issues, but one that may become a source of competition for our own product.

That is, if consumers come to accept the new product, and the process does actually provide palatable and nutritionally valuable meat.

Extreme consumer comment sees artificial meat production as involving no slaughter, death or cruelty to animals, “…it’s akin to the abolition of slavery” said one commentator!

The Modern Meadow innovation is not unique in exploring solutions to the world’s future food needs.

New Zealand’s Riddet Institute is also working on future projects but ones using animal-based protein to formulate novel food solutions.

The Institute is carrying out fundamental research that will underpin the next generation of innovative foods targeting heath and wellness. Their strategies revolve around science research in the three broad themes of foods inspired by nature, functional foods and ingredients, and individualised foods including personalised nutrition.

A very different approach from the profit-driven motive of American venture capitalists using artificial protein.

A report commissioned by the Riddet Institute, Agri-Food Strategy Report: A Call To Arms, develops a strategy to position New Zealand as a leader in agri-food research.

In a speech to the Riddet Institute Conference in July, Primary Industries Minister David Carter acknowledged the Institute’s work and noted that our agri-foods industry is valued at more than $24 billion in exports and provides about 10% of the country’s total employment.

The government aspires to trebling the real value of our food exports to about $60 billion by 2025.  “To realise this level of growth, we need to collaborate, be innovative, build on our strengths and continue to earn our reputation for safe high-quality food, produced in a sustainable manner” David Carter said.

We justifiably pride ourselves on the quality and nutritional value of pasture-fed beef that is efficiently produced from lush green pastures and distributed as a premium product around the world.  That is a quite different product and market from Modern Meadow’s and is one that should keep us in clover for many a year.