DOWNPATRICK-based food producer Finnebrogue is to partner with UK-leading cultivated meat company Ivy Farm Technologies to create one of the world’s first commercially-available cultivated Wagyu beef burger.
The two companies are working together on the 'laboratory-grown' burgers, though are waiting on the necessary regulatory approvals.
Finnebrogue has its own world-class herd of Wagyu cattle grazing on its County Down estate (Wagyu is a breed of cattle native to Japan, and the word literally means Japanese beef).
Its award-winning Wagyu burgers are already sold by the likes of Sainsburys, Ocado and Tesco.
But to meet burgeoning demand for Wagyu products, cells are now being taken from the Finnebrogue herd and being cultivated in fermentation tanks at Ivy Farm’s 18,000 sq ft state-of-the-art research facility at Oxford University.
The mince meat is then grown and harvested at Ivy Farm’s pilot plant, which resembles a craft beer brewery to the untrained eye.
The Wagyu cells will join Ivy Farm’s existing product range, which includes British pork and Aberdeen Angus beef.
Indeed Ivy Farm and Finnebrogue are already looking at replicating the Wagyu cultivation experiment with Co Down venison.
Jago Pearson, chief strategy officer at Finnebrogue (www.finnebrogue.com), said: “We are best known for our agenda-setting innovation, whether it be our revolutionary nitrite-free bacon, famous Oisin venison, our award-winning wagyu burgers or, more recently, the delicious plant-based alternatives we are producing from Europe’s leading vegan food facility.
“We have never been bound by the way food has always been produced, nor have we been tied to a single protein.
“Our task is always to make food that is nutritious, delicious and sustainable for food-loving consumers, so we're excited to strike this partnership with Ivy Farm that will allow us to explore the future potential of cultivated meat.
“Ivy Farm will be cultivating Wagyu beef from cells derived from our herd on Finnebrogue Estate. In time, we are excited to help realise the potential this may bring in producing sustainable food that can feed a growing global population.”
Rich Dillon, chief executive at Ivy Farm (www.ivy.farm) adds: “Appetite from consumers for sustainable and delicious meat has never been higher.
“This new collaboration with Finnebrogue showcases how cultivated meat can work with traditional farming, helping to reduce the pressure on producers to intensify operations to meet growing demand, while boosting consumer choice.
“In Finnebrogue we have found a partner who has a long history and track record of producing premium products that do not compromise on taste and quality.”
He added: “Ivy Farm grows cells from animals in large fermentation tanks in order to produce real meat that has a healthy, nutritional profile and a more sustainable greenhouse gas footprint.”
Cultivated meat is sometimes called cellular agriculture, which is the production of agricultural products from cell cultures using a combination of biotechnology, tissue engineering, molecular biology, and synthetic biology to create and design new methods of producing proteins, fats, and tissues that would otherwise come from traditional farming.
A report last year from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) suggested that the UK's exit from the EU could make regulation around cellular agriculture more agile, making market entry easier and faster.