Manufacturing & Technology

New GFI Report Reveals Current Trends in Cultivated Meat Production & Scaling

The Good Food Institute has released a new report, Trends in Cultivated Meat Scale-Up and Bioprocessing, that provides valuable insights into the production of cultivated meat.

The report summarizes the findings of a comprehensive 2023 survey of 30 cultivated meat companies and equipment providers, which was conducted to uncover trends in equipment and material usage, production facilities, food safety, and scaling strategies.

The following are the key findings of GFI’s survey. The complete report can be found here.

The Good Food Institute has released a new report, Trends in cultivated meat scale-up and bioprocessing, that provides valuable insights into the production of cultivated meat.
© Good Food Institute

Production facilities and sustainability

  • Many companies are planning and building their first pre-pilot or pilot-scale production facilities to gain regulatory approval.
  • 24 respondents revealed they use existing warehouses as facilities, while others are repurposing or building greenfield facilities.
  • 14 out of 24 companies are either planning or have already made plans to construct a second facility, and eight are collaborating with an engineering firm to design the new building.
  • When looking at second facilities, it was found that some companies are planning to install renewable energy sources, while others are aiming for carbon and water neutrality using solar energy, water recycling, and advanced cooling technologies.
  • Most companies will rely on the standard energy mix at the location, with varying levels of renewable energy availability.
  • Some companies are planning to set up their renewable energy production capacity at the facility, with one aiming for 100% renewable energy.


  • Key findings of the report include the diversity in bioreactor types, costs, and modes of operation used by companies in the cultivated meat industry. Stirred-tank reactors were found to be the most commonly used, but companies also reported using air-lift, rocking-bed, fixed-bed, or hollow-fiber reactors.
  • Cost and availability of bioreactors are also significant factors to consider, with an average cost of $100,000 for every 100 L of bioreactor capacity.

Cell culture media

  • Cell culture media use significantly impacts the cost and environmental sustainability of cultivated meat production. Of the 23 companies surveyed, 17 actively develop serum replacements, indicating a strong trend toward serum-free bioprocesses.
  • 14 companies disclosed the specific serum replacements they use: 8 use recombinant proteins, while 9 use plant-based alternatives. 2 companies use fungal-based serums, and one algae-derived ingredients.
  • However, independent media formulation could slow progress due to duplicated efforts but also promote innovation and indicate a significant demand for cost-effective animal-free media solutions, the reports point out.
  • Companies specializing in cell banking and media development could be crucial in providing the industry with economically viable, cell-specific, and animal-free media.
multus animal-free growth medium product
© Multus


  • Different companies employ different methods for proliferation, with single-cell suspension being the most common choice. Additionally, the report highlights the importance of differentiation in the bioprocessing process, with perfusion emerging as the preferred choice for this stage.
  • The survey found that 15 out of 21 respondents include a differentiation phase in their manufacturing process, with myotubes and mature adipocytes being the most common cell types used post-differentiation. Seven companies said they work with both types of cells.
  • Most companies reported production yields between 20 and 100 grams of wet cell biomass per liter in the proliferation phase, with some companies achieving higher yields.
  • Even if differentiation is important in producing structured cultivated meat products, not all companies prioritize it. According to a survey, most companies complete differentiation for cultivated meat and seafood in 5-10 days, with some variations reported.
  • Differentiation involves scaffolding and requires specific considerations in bioreactor and bioprocess design. Eight out of 13 companies producing multicellular tissues reported using scaffolds in their differentiation process.
  • The scaffolds used are made from polysaccharides, proteins, or complex natural products, with companies often utilizing all three categories to meet the diverse needs of different cell types. This suggests ongoing research and experimentation in determining the most effective methods for cell differentiation.
  • Polymer spinning, hydrogels, extrusion, and 3D printing are the most common methods of scaffold production. Most respondents fabricate their scaffolds outside the bioreactor before sterilizing and positioning them inside, while others use bioreactors with permanently fixed scaffolds.
cultivated meat scaffolding
© Gelatex


  • The report also found that harvesting methods present an area for innovation, with half of respondents expressing a need for novel or customized equipment.
  • Ten companies used the continuous centrifuge as the most popular harvesting method among the 15 respondents. The remaining five used batch centrifuges, while seven used other methods, such as settling and filtration or removing the final product from a tissue bioreactor. 
  • The report emphasizes the importance of advanced methods such as automated cell separation processes, TFF systems, high-throughput filtration-based approaches, and the ongoing need for research and development. 
  • GFI’s survey also explores recycling, filtration, bioprocessing monitoring, bioreactor sterilization, and shear stress control. The complete report can be found here.

Scaling strategies

  • Scaling strategies vary among cultivated meat companies, with some opting for scale-up while others choose scale-out strategies (constant bioreactor size throughout the pilot and commercial manufacturing, expanding production by increasing the number of bioreactors and production lines of the same size).
  • The report indicates that access to equipment and supplies, achieving desired texture, selecting appropriate equipment types, and ensuring an animal-free process are key challenges companies face in scaling up or out of their production.
  • In a survey of 25 respondents, three prioritize scaling out, 12 focus on scaling up, and the rest use a combination of strategies. 15 out of 24 respondents have conducted a techno-economic assessment of their production process (most are not sharing these publicly).
  • Some companies are considering large bioreactors with 200,000 L or more volumes, while others are starting with smaller volumes and scaling out. The profitability of operations will depend on factors like the final product and cell type, as pointed out by the authors.
  • Timely access to supplies and equipment is the primary obstacle that hinders scaling. Other major concerns include achieving the desired texture, obtaining the appropriate equipment, and avoiding using animal-derived materials.
  • The primary challenges in cultivated meat production are the interconnected costs of media and bioreactor designs. Other issues include the availability of skilled talent and high labor costs, which can be addressed through automation.
  • However, caution is needed when interpreting survey results, as focusing on rapid and cost-effective scaling may overlook future bottlenecks. The authors suggest that it is important to stay abreast of emerging challenges and priorities in the evolving landscape of cultivated meat production. 
Cultivated Chicken FDA
© GOOD Meat

Contract manufacturing

  • The report also explored the companies’s preference to work with contract manufacturing organizations and contract development and manufacturing organizations (CMOs and CDMOs) for cultivated meat companies.
  • Partner selection is based on production quality, expertise, and pricing. The preferred locations for CMO/CDMO facilities are the US and Southeast Asia.

Safety of the process

  • 15 companies responded that common analyses included checking for contamination, assessing composition, analyzing spent media, and determining shelf life.
  • While the frequency of tests does not always indicate their importance, contamination can occur at different stages of the production process. Of the 22 respondents, the majority (13) identified process contamination as the main source of microbial contamination, seven identified final product contamination, and two identified raw material contamination as the primary source
  • Safety is a key concern in cultivated meat production, and tailored safety regulations are needed to ensure the right balance between safety and efficiency. Establishing standards for the cultivated meat industry can guide suppliers to make fit-for-purpose and affordable equipment.

The survey underscores the critical need for ongoing innovation and investment in bioprocessing technologies to enable the cultivated meat industry to scale efficiently. It identified specific areas where suppliers, manufacturers, and researchers can accelerate the industry’s expansion and reduce production costs,” state the authors.

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