From Lab to Table: The Impact of Lab-Grown Meat on Local Restaurants

May 12, 2024

Imagine a future where meat is lab-grown, free from factory farming and slaughterhouses, and vegans and meat-eaters can dine together without ethical debates. It may sound like a Black Mirror episode, but it's closer than you think.

 

What’s the Deal With Lab-Grown Meat?

Lab-grown meat is far from a new concept. Scientists first predicted lab-grown meat consumption back in the late 19th century. Since then, we’ve made some serious strides in developing plant-based alternative meats to satiate meat cravings among vegetarians and vegans. But now, lab-grown meat is re-surfacing as an even tastier alternative.

It has already been approved it for retail sale in Singapore. Closer to home, the FDA has just signed off on chicken breasts grown by California-based UPSIDE Foods as “safe for human consumption.” Early reviews are promising, with taste testers claiming that the meat tastes just as good as traditional meat.

 

So, What’s the Hold Up?

The progress of lab-grown meat is being held back by its cost and scalability. The bio-manufacturing equipment and techniques required come with a hefty price tag. The risk of contamination is big concern too.

There’s also public opinion to contend with. Many people are still skeptical about lab-grown meat, even though most of the meat we eat today isn't exactly natural either.

Scientist dripping red liquid onto cultured meat in lab.

Right now, it's hard to say for sure what the impact of lab-grown meat will be on the food and restaurant industry. There are some challenges that local restaurant owners might face, but there could also be some exciting opportunities to explore. Let's take a look...

 

Challenges for Local Restaurants

Higher Food Costs

If lab-grown meats are more expensive than regular meat products, local restaurants may need to bump up their menu prices to cover the extra costs. This could make them less competitive than other joints that stick with traditional meats.

Shift in Consumer Preferences

The adoption of lab-grown meats could eventually see consumer preferences shift away from traditional meat products. If consumers start opting more for lab-grown meat alternatives, this may put a strain on local restaurants that rely on regular meat products. The types of restaurants that will be most successful in the market, will almost certainly be places that can adapt quickly.

Supply Chain Disruptions

Less demand for traditional meat products equals less production and potential job losses in the meat industry. If companies that currently supply traditional meat products close or shift their focus to producing lab-grown meats instead, restaurant's will need to re-think their supply chains. They may need to find new suppliers or switch to alternative ingredients that could be more expensive or less familiar to their customers.

Regulatory Hurdles

If local restaurants want to start offering lab-grown meats, they might face some regulatory hurdles. Basically, the government will need to establish new safety and labeling regulations, which could add extra costs and complexity to the restaurant's operations.

 

Opportunities for Local Restaurants

Stand Out From Competitors

If local restaurants can secure a steady supply of lab-grown meats and pitch them as a unique menu item, they can differentiate themselves from competitors and attract new audiences who are interested in trying new and innovative food products.

Sustainability is a Selling Point

Restaurants that offer lab-grown meats should be able to promote themselves as more sustainable than places that offer traditional meat products. This could be a key selling point for environmentally conscious consumers who are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Investment Opportunities

It could be wise for local restaurants to invest in lab-grown meat production companies or partner with them to secure a steady supply of the product.

Improved Food Safety Credentials

Lab-grown meats could potentially be safer than traditional meat products, as they're produced in a controlled environment without the risk of contamination from pathogens like E. coli or Salmonella. Local restaurants that offer lab-grown meats should be able to promote themselves as offering safer food options.