“Our emphasis first is not on meat, it’s on leather,” Forgacs says. “The main reason is that, technically, skin is a simpler structure than meat, making it easier to produce.”
The company also needs to acclimate potential customers to the idea of tissue-engineering products. It turns out that, initially at least, many consumers might not want to eat a modern technological marvel. “Anecdotally, we’ve found that around 40 percent of people would be willing to try cultured meat,” he says. “There’s much less controversy around using leather that doesn’t involve killing animals.”
They will work on growing meat in the lab while perfecting their leather process, but Forgacs expects the regulatory approval process could keep Modern Meadow burgers off the dinner plate for another 10 years. A full-scale leather production facility, on the other hand, could be up and running in five years.
In the meantime, the company’s team, which previously founded medical bioprinter manufacturer Organovo, will work for the next two years on perfecting their processes and materials, and creating a small volume of products.