Icelandic Ministers Taste Ivy Farm’s Cultivated Beef During Iceland Innovation Week

The UK-based cultivated meat company Ivy Farm Technologies and the Icelandic biotechnology company ORF Genetics held a cultivated meat tasting and panel discussions at an event last week during Iceland Innovation Week.

The tasting featured cultivated meatballs made with Angus beef cells prepared by Chef Ólafur Örn Ólafsson, owner and chef of the restaurant Brút in Reykjavík.

According to the announcement, many stakeholders from the food and technology industries attended the event, including Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, Minister of Education, Industry, and Innovation, and Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir, Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries. 

“It would be very difficult or even impossible for most foodies to distinguish between the cultivated beef and traditionally grown”

Sigurbjörnsdóttir commented: “It is very exciting to see the developments in cultivated meat production globally and it is particularly enjoyable to see an Icelandic company, ORF Genetics, taking part in this. Iceland Innovation Week has been very diverse, and getting to taste meat from Ivy Farm was a great experience.”

Örn Ólafsson shared, “I couldn’t believe how enjoyable it was to work with cultivated beef, which is essentially just meat grown using new technology. In fact, it would be very difficult or even impossible for most foodies to distinguish between the cultivated beef and traditionally grown.”

Barley in a petri-dish
© ORF Genetics

Climate-friendly innovations

The event also featured panel discussions between Riley Jackson from Ivy Farm, Björn Lárus Örvar, co-founder of ORF Genetics, and Birgitta Guðrún Schepsky Ásgrímsdóttir, co-founder of the cultivated seafood company Sea Growth, about the potential of cultivated meat and seafood to fight climate change. 

ORF Genetics has developed a scalable molecular farming platform to grow specific proteins in barley on a large scale. Using these recombinant proteins, the firm has launched MESOkine, a plant-based growth factor designed explicitly for cultivated meat.

“The impact of cultivated meat on the Icelandic food market could be significant”

The innovator has partnered with several companies to remove animal serum from cultivated meat production, including Mosa Meat and SeaWith, and two companies that have received regulatory approval to sell their cultivated meat products in their countries, Vow and Aleph Farms

Berglind Rán Ólafsdóttir, CEO of ORF Genetics, said, “The impact of cultivated meat on the Icelandic food market could be significant. However, it is important that laws and regulations regarding food keep up with technological advancements to ensure that such climate-friendly innovations can thrive. Fortunately, we find a strong willingness from the authorities to support this development.”

Ivy Farm's cultivated beef meatballs
Cultivated beef meatballs at the tasting event – Image provided

Learning from tastings

At the event, Ivy Farm announced a manufacturing partnership with the Finnish biotech Synbio Powerlabs to expand its production significantly while embracing a light capex approach. In 2022,  the company opened a cultivated meat pilot plant in Oxford, UK, with a production capacity of 2.8 tons annually.

Ivy Farm, which produces meat without the environmental impact of industrial agriculture, has developed meatballs, sausages, and scotch eggs, blending beef cells with plant-based ingredients. Rich Dillon, CEO of Ivy Farm, told vegconomist in an interview, “It’s real meat, just made in a better way.”  

Dillon commented on the tasting, We learned a lot from the chef and panel feedback for future R+D to make the product even better. Iceland [is] setting a leading example in how to support innovative technology and alternative proteins.”

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