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Cultivated Wagyu beef could cost the same as farmed beef by 2026

A woman holds a Wagyu beef slider in a bun with lettuce, onions and tomato jam.
Image credit: Orbillion Bio

Slaughter-free foods cultivated from animal cells to create whole cuts of certain high end meats could cost about as much as their farmed counterparts within the next two years.

That's the word from Orbillion Bio, a San Francisco startup that's one of several new businesses racing to apply to technology to meet global food demand.

The company's approach to high end beef is similar to the technology Upside Foods is using to grow chicken breasts, what Higher Steaks is doing with bacon and pork, and with what FootPrint Coalition portfolio company Wild Type is doing with salmon.

"We want to make sure that nutritious food is available for the masses," said Orbillion co-founder and chief executive Patricia Bubner. in a statement.

The company is tackling the higher end of the meat market with cell lines cultivated from the famous Wagyu beef stock, rather than the Angus or Hereford cattle lines that are raised for industrial farming.

Competing with meats that have a higher price point make it easier for companies to get to market with the kind of economics that should be more viable in the long term.

"By 2026 we’re looking at between $40 and $60 per pound. [And] why we were thinking about Wagyu… is that if you can scale any kind of meat why wouldn’t you scale the best?" Bubner said. "We eat Angus and Hereford and others because we can keep them in an industrial setting. Having the cell lines from these animals… we’re not taking random cell lines for random products… we want to make good food."

Bubner wouldn't discuss the first product her company intends to bring to market nor would she say whether she's using any of the startup companies that are focused on other aspects of the cultivated meat supply chain.

These are companies like Future Fields, a developer of the media that companies need to grow cells into whole cuts of meat, or the bioreactors that can keep these cell lines growing.

"Cell cultured meat is closer to market than a lot of people perceive it to be," said Bubner. "And there is an urgency around this right now with the issues that the world is facing that we see a push from governments assisting in building the infrastructure to make this a reality."

The one thing that all of these companies are waiting for -- at least in the US -- is regulatory approval. And Bubner said that there's also movement on that front.

"The FDA and USDA have been talking with companies for a while," Bubner said. "Something will happen in the next few months to a year."


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