Leonardo DiCaprio is putting his money behind yet another environmental cause: cultured meat.
Academy Award-winning actor and environmentalist became an investor and advisor to two startups in the nascent cultured meat space: Netherlands-based Mosa Meat and Israel-based Aleph Farms.
“One of the most impactful ways to combat the climate crisis is to transform our food system. Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms offer new ways to satisfy the world’s demand for beef while solving some of the most pressing issues of current industrial beef production,” says DiCaprio, whose investment amount is undisclosed.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s investments
Well-known for his passion for protecting the environment, 46-year-old DiCaprio has produced a growing list of climate-focused documentaries and has invested in conservation and rewilding efforts. The actor has also put his money behind several sustainability- and food-focused companies over the years, including lab-grown diamond brand Diamond Foundry, banking service Aspiration, plant milk brand Califia Farms, and vegan snack brand Hippeas. This marks the first time that DiCaprio has turned his attention to the emerging cultured meat industry.
What is cultured meat?
Cultured meat has been known by several names in its short time in the food space, including lab-grown, clean, and cultivated. Simply put, cultured meat is grown from cells harvested from an animal. Once obtained, the cells are fed a growth medium, causing them to multiply. Eventually, they are transferred to a scaffold—a structure that allows the cells to form the muscle, fat, and connective tissue found in a piece of meat. There are nearly 100 companies in this fast-growing industry, creating everything from chicken and kangaroo meat to lobster and fish maw.
Mosa Meat and Aleph Farms both focus on beef. The former created the world’s first cultured beef burger in 2013, priced at a cool $325,000 at the time. In the past year, the company has achieved milestones in cost reduction, primarily by replacing the expensive and controversial growth medium, fetal bovine serum. Its growth medium is now animal-free.
Aleph Farms has turned its attention to beef steak, and it unveiled its cultured ribeye made using 3D bioprinting technology earlier this year. It is currently building a pilot production facility ahead of its launch target of 2022.