Australian start-up becomes fourth approved global player in cultivated meat market


An Australian start-up has become the fourth company approved globally to sell a cultivated-meat product.

The Singapore Government approved the sale of Vow’s cultured meat products derived from Japanese quail. Launched under the new brand label, Forged, Vow’s product, described as a parfait, was described as the only cultivated meat product currently available to the public anywhere in the world when it launched at Singapore’s top end Mandala Club on April 12.

Singapore was the first country to approve cultivated meat, also referred to as cultured meat, in 2020, followed by the US in 2023 and Israel in 2024.

There are four companies in Australia and New Zealand working in the cultivated meat ecosystem. Receiving approval to sell into a market is a significant development for the sector and should signal confidence to others wanting to do the same.

Cultivated meat production replicates the biological process of cell growth that occurs within an animal. It involves taking a small sample of source cells from an animal and placing them into an environment that provides them with the nutrients and conditions they need to grow. The final product is indistinguishable from conventional meat at the cellular level. It could potentially address the growing demand for meat while also mitigating some of the ecological and environmental challenges associated with traditional meat production.

Food Frontier’s Alternative Proteins and Asia report found that Singapore is the second most favourable market for alternative proteins in Asia. It has embraced new protein technologies to address food security concerns. It is also considered the centre of innovation in Asia for alternative proteins with a business-friendly environment backed by supportive government policy and regulations to attract investment and innovation. Singapore is also one of four countries in the world where precision fermentation dairy products are permitted for sale.
The Netherlands, US, Israel and the UK have also invested heavily in cultivated meat.

Food Frontier CEO, Dr Simon Eassom, says Vow’s approach within the industry is unique. “Vow has differentiated itself from other start-ups in the cultivated meat sector by deliberately not trying to replicate meat products and formats already available to consumers.“It has firmly set its sights on meat eaters looking for new and unique culinary experiences, not just as a business strategy but also as a way of bringing attention to the capacity of cultivated meat technology to completely transform how we think about food.” Vow’s creative marketing approach of introducing the ‘Quailia’ as a fictitious new species will attract interest. It is different to how other cultivated meat companies are positioning themselves. Eassom says, “It will be interesting to see how much Vow riffs on its idea of creating a new species bred for its deliciousness and, moreover, how the public reacts.

“But, without a doubt, Vow continues to capture attention and arouse curiosity about an industry that to date hasn’t clearly established a viable path to market. Although other companies have received regulatory approval to sell their products, for various reasons cultivated meat is not on menus anywhere.
“This means Vow is the only company currently selling cultivated meat anywhere in the world. That’s an incredible achievement for an Australian company.”

After concluding it is safe to eat, Australian standards setter FSANZ closed its first round of public consultation for Vow’s cultured quail food ingredient in January — a second round is expected to open in the coming months, paving the way for Forged Parfait to be available to Australian consumers.