The year was 2013. Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” was working its way toward the top of the charts without the burden of a lawsuit. Kids on the Internet were obsessed with a dance phenomenon known as the Harlem Shake. And a small group of scientists created the world’s first test-tube-grown beef hamburger patty for the rock-bottom price of just $325,000.
My how things have changed. Scientists continued to plug away at lab-grown meat, and now, in just two years’ time, the prices have come down dramatically. How dramatically? 99.9972 percent. According to Mark Post, a Dutch professor who spoke earlier this year at Australia’s Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association annual conference, lab beef can now be produced at an estimated price of about $80 per kilogram—meaning a Quarter Pounder patty would run just $9. It’s certainly not cheap, but it is approaching somewhat affordable territory. And Post predicts prices will be even lower within a few years.
But despite the decrease in production cost we have a while to go before lab meat makes it to the kitchen. “I do think that in 20, 30 years from now we will have a viable industry producing alternative beef,” Post told Australia’s ABC News. But for now, the industry still faces challenges when it comes to the viability of large-scale production—and, of course, getting people to eat lab meat.