Bruce Friedrich, the CEO and co-founder of a think tank accelerator called The Good Food Institute, estimates clean-meat products will be available at a high price within two to three years, and he believes they will be cost-competitive within 10 years.
Friedrich knows that until the infrastructure for clean meat is in place, companies will have to stay creative. "The soft opening will absolutely be at high price points," he said. "Certainly, foie gras is one way of going about that."
The problem, however, may be that the type of person willing to pay top dollar for such a controversial food is probably not likely to be interested in an environmentally and ethically friendly alternative. Verstrate understands the foie gras strategy but has different plans.
"Foie gras is a really emotional product for meat eaters," Verstrate said. "I don't think you would stand much chance in France or Spain with foie gras from a lab."
MosaMeat plans to start with burgers in high-end restaurants, where it can be price-competitive.
Both Tyson Foods and Cargill have invested in clean-meat company Memphis Meats, alongside billionaires Gates and Branson.
"It's a train that's leaving the station," Verstrate said of the need for the established meat giants to invest early. "It's relatively cheap to buy a train ticket today."
Tom Hayes, the president and CEO of Tyson Foods, said in a statement earlier this year: "A protein strategy inclusive of alternative forms is intuitive for Tyson Foods. It's another step toward giving today's consumers what they want and feeding tomorrow's consumers sustainably for years to come."
When digital cameras became available, Canon invested heavily and Kodak did not. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2011. "Everybody wants to be Canon; nobody wants to be Kodak," Shapiro said.