Icelandic Prime Minister Tries Vow’s Cultivated Quail at Europe’s First Official Cultivated Meat Tasting

Australian cultivated meat firm Vow and the Icelandic biotech company ORF Genetics recently held what they claim was Europe’s first official cultivated meat tasting featuring gourmet dishes crafted with Vow’s cultivated quail.

The pioneering event took place on the 12th of February. Among the attendees was Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister and acting Minister of Food, Fisheries and Agriculture of Iceland, who, according to the announcement, tasted cultivated meat for the first time.

Jakobsdóttir shared: “Cultivated meat is one of the solutions to the climate challenge. The Icelandic authorities are determined to pave the way for the adoption of new solutions in Iceland and we are eager to see the development of an EU regulatory framework for cultivated meat.”

Iceland hosts Europe's first official cultivated meat tasting featuring Vow's cultivated quail
© ORF Genetics

Why Iceland?

ORF Genetics, which develops MESOkine, a plant-based growth factor designed explicitly for cultivated meat, has partnered with Vow, the Israeli biotech Aleph Farms, Dutch cultivated beef firm Mosa Meat, and South Korean Biotech SeaWith to accelerate cultivated meat production.

ORF Genetics has developed a platform, ORFEUS, that uses molecular farming to grow specific proteins in barley on a large scale.

The biotech claims that the system is highly efficient, eco-friendly and 100% GRAS plant-based. Using these proteins, ORF Genetics has launched a portfolio of growth factors, including a MESOkine and other media with human-like growth factor activity.

Berglind Rán Ólafsdóttir, CEO of ORF Genetics, commented:“We are excited to bring this innovative, novel food product for this milestone tasting event here in Iceland, showcasing that not only is cultivated meat a more sustainable alternative to traditional meat – but that it is also a delicious one.” 

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has concluded that Vow's cultivated quail it is safe to eat.
© Vow

Vow’s cultivated quail

Vow is closer to receiving approval for novel foods to produce and sell a cultivated quail product in Australia and New Zealand. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has concluded that Vow’s cultivated quail is safe to eat. However, the approval process is still in its final stages. Vow is also expecting approval from Singapore’s national authority, SFA, to introduce Forged Parfait, crafted from its cultivated quail.

Meanwhile, in the EU, once the European Food Safety Authority approves a novel food product, it can be sold across all 27 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Vow’s cultivated quail originates from cells of the rare Japanese quail, Coturnix japonica, which are said to be grown without animal-derived additives such as MESOkine and without antibiotics to provide a slaughter-free alternative.

In 2022, Vow raised $49.2 million to scale production and launch its flagship product (branded as Morsel) in Australia by Q4 2024 after FSANZ’s approval.

The company operates two food manufacturing and R&D facilities in Sydney, Australia, one of them claimed to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Vow has also announced a third export-focused commercial facility to produce cultivated for multiple markets by the end of 2024. 

Vow’s Morsel has been tasted in Australia at various events, including its debut at  SXSW, where the company hosted “the largest cultured meat tasting ever.”

Vow's cultivated quail brand called morsel
© Vow

A different way of producing meat

By 2030, the global value of cultivated meat could reach up to $25 billion, with the alternative proteins sector contributing $1.1 trillion to the global economy and generating up to 10 million new jobs by 2050, according to McKinsey & Company.

George Peppou, co-founder and CEO of Vow, shared: “We have a vision of producing meat that is deliberately different – uniquely delicious, nutritious and sustainable, and unlike anything you’ve tasted before. That is why we are so excited to partner with ORF to announce today […] Europe’s first-ever official cultured meat tasting.”

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