How Buyers Are Betting on Foie Gras Grown From Cells in a Lab

How Investors Are Betting on Foie Gras Grown From Cells in a Lab

Others had doubts. Marco Moreira, the chef and owner of 15 East at Tocqueville in New York, was skeptical.

Daily business briefing


July 16, 2021, 4:40 p.m. ET

“I wouldn’t be against it, but I’m a bit of a traditionalist here too,” said Mr Moreira, who has several dishes with foie gras on his menu. “Why mess with something that’s as perfect as it is?” Even so, he said he was open to trying it out.

Investors have been putting money into food technology startups in recent years as they worry about food shortages in the coming decades given the world’s growing population. Cell-cultured meat does not yet have regulatory approval in most countries, but last year the San Francisco-based company Eat Just received government approval from the city-state of Singapore for the first time for the laboratory meat industry to use cultured chicken as an ingredient in chicken nuggets.

One of the major obstacles to cell-cultured meat has been cost. Mr. Morin-Forest says gourmet lab-grown foie gras costs less than $ 1,180 per kilogram. Made in the traditional way, foie gras costs around 100 to 200 euros per kilogram.

The European Commission and France’s public bank Bpifrance have also provided grants to support Gourmey, which started in 2019 and employs around 20 people.

Mr Morin-Forest said Gourmey is seeking regulatory approval from the food safety authorities and hopes to be launched by the end of next year or early 2023. His focus will be on markets like Singapore and the United States, where the acceptance of laboratory-grown meat, he said.

Stéphane Chambon, the chef at Le Pont de l’Ouysse, a Michelin-starred restaurant in southwest France known for its foie gras, said the movement against foie gras was misguided for animal welfare reasons and that the rearing of ducks or Geese for foie gras by overfeeding mimicked a natural one: Centuries ago when geese and ducks crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt, they ate a lot for energy, which caused their livers to swell, he said.