July 20, 2020

Space fishcakes, pet food: The 3D-printed meat market is looking juicy

Even KFC is working to launch a line of bioprinted chicken nuggets.

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Your chicken nuggets might soon come from a Russian lab. 

KFC just announced a partnership with the Moscow-based company 3D Bioprinting Solutions to test out bioprinted chicken — one of the highest-profile deals yet for the lab-grown meat industry.  

KFC, which will wrap its final experiments with the nuggs this fall, thinks printed meat will become part of its “restaurant of the future.” 

3D-printed meat is going intergalactic

The California-based startup Finless Foods has been trying to use 3D printing to spice up astronauts’ diets. It wants to create cultured fish cells that can be grown in zero-gravity environments.  

To do it, Finless Foods partnered with 3D Bioprinting Solutions. Last year, the two companies sent a bioprinter — plus a set of fish cells — to the International Space Station for testing. 

Pets are going to love it 

Bioprinting has gotten so big that you can now find lab-grown shrimp protein in Singapore and kangaroo meat in Australia. 

But there’s one catch: Most lab-grown meats don’t mimic the same muscular structure of, say, a normal steak. Instead, according to the Boston Globe, they look a lot like mincemeat.

That might make them a bit less appealing to earthbound humans. But you know who is going to go wild for meat mush? Your dogs and cats. 

A number of companies — including Bond Pet Foods and Because Animals — are already racing to corner the 3D-printed pet food market. 

+Bonus deep dive: How exactly do meaty innovations make it to market, anyway? Devour this story on the origins of the flat iron steak to find out.

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