twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Next decade to see tech-driven disruptions in food and agriculture

Modern foods will be far more efficient than animal-derived products: up to 100 times more land-efficient, 10-25 times more feedstock-efficient, 20 times more time-efficient and 10 times more water-efficient than industrial livestock, according to a report by RethinkX

hackathon af 26 MarchBy 2030, modern food products will cost less than half as much to produce as the animal-derived products they replace. (Image source: Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay)

Catherine Tubb, co-author of ‘Rethinking Food and Agriculture 2020-2030 -- The Second Domestication of Plants and Animals, the Disruption of the Cow, and the Collapse of Industrial Livestock Farming,’ said, “The industrial livestock industry is one of the oldest, largest and most inefficient food-production systems in the world.  Modern ingredients and the foods are about 10 times more efficient across the board – from land and water use, to feedstock consumption and energy use.”

Precision fermentation costs are dropping

Precision fermentation (PF) is a process that enables the programming of micro-organisms to produce almost any complex organic molecule. Its costs are dropping exponentially because of rapid improvements in underlying biological and information technologies. The cost to produce a single molecule using PF has fallen from US$1mn per kilogram in 2000, to about US$100 today.

The report projects that these costs will fall below US$10 per kilogram by 2025, and that these proteins will be five times cheaper than traditional animal proteins by 2030 and 10 times cheaper by 2035.

By 2030, modern food products will cost less than half as much to produce as the animal-derived products they replace. At the same time, this production system has the potential to spur competition and fast iteration of products that are ever cheaper and ever better: more nutritious, healthier, better tasting, more convenient, and more varied, as long as open markets and nutritional standards are protected.

Technological innovation seen to decrease demand for cow products

The report details the way different parts of the cow (collagen, milk, meat and leather) and the markets they serve will be disrupted separately and concurrently by different technologies and business-model innovations that overlap, reinforce and accelerate each other. 

As cow products face competition from cheaper, higher quality modern foods, demand for cow products will decrease, triggering a death spiral of increasing prices for the industrial livestock industry, decreasing demand and reversing economies of scale.

“The key to understanding the disruption of the cow is that PF only needs to disrupt 3.3 per cent of the milk bottle to bring about the collapse of the entire cow milk industry,” said Seba. “PF proteins are already being produced commercially. Costs are decreasing exponentially while quality and variety increase exponentially. Industrial cattle farming industry will collapse long before we see modern technologies produce the ‘perfect’ cellular steak at a competitive price.”

“This disruption is inevitable,” said RethinkX co-founder Jamie Arbib. “The positive impacts – from food security to climate – are profound.  But policymakers, investors, businesses and voters have some power over this disruption’s speed, scale, impacts, and who benefits. One of the first and most critical decisions is to ensure an open market place.”

Food-as-Software model

Instead of growing a whole cow to break it down into products, PF designs and customizes individual molecules to build products. Development is done in a manner similar to the software industry: companies and individuals will build components within layers of the equivalent of a software stack that can be used according to individual needs. The food developer is like an app developer, using the stack that is most appropriate according to market needs. 

All aspects of the Food-as-Software model are distributed: building biological parts databases (biobricks), designing molecules/ingredients, designing microorganisms to produce these molecules via PF, and designing molecular cookbooks to integrate them into end-user products. Like craft breweries, food producers will produce food locally, using locally grown feedstock. However, with the Food-as-Software system, they will download microorganism designs, protein designs, and molecular cookbooks from global databases.

According to Arbib, “We are still early in the disruption cycle, and projections are just that, but we believe our framework, methodology and findings are more accurate than those produced by linear models, which risk locking in expensive, obsolete, and uncompetitive assets, technologies and skill sets.”

“To unlock the full potential of this and every other technological disruption, we need to embrace an approach that better reflects the complex, dynamic and rapidly-changing world we live in.”

German Agriculture Society (DLG) and Alain Charles Publishing are working on a concept of an animal farming Hackathon to collaborate with the business and education community at large a identify challenges and come up with solutions for the same.



Intracare launches the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage

Intracare launches the world’s most eco-…

Intracare, developer and supplier of products for veterinary health and nutrition, has come up with the world’s most eco-friendly hoof bandage, which will be available worldwide

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustainable feed solutions for small-scale producers

Nutreco receives grant to provide sustai…

Nutreco, a global animal nutrition leader, has received a US$4.8mn grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the implementation of localised, sustainable complete feed production in sub-Saharan...

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

Volatility: challenges in animal feeding

As price volatility propels the use of alternative feed ingredients, Adisseo's team discusses how the quality of diets and the performance of animals can be maintained in such situations

Tackling transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe

Tackling transboundary animal diseases i…

To curb high impact transboundary animal diseases in Zimbabwe, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development launched the animal health...

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure safety in animal food products

Nuclear techniques help Zambia ensure sa…

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) are working with Zambian experts to address drug resistant microbes as well as food contamination in meat...

Evonik publishes first edition of animal diet

Evonik publishes first edition of animal…

Evonik, a German-based specialty chemicals company has published the first edition of the MetAMINO ATLAS displaying the results of 15 performance trials investigating the relative bioavailability of supplementary methionine sources...

Prev Next


Small-scale dairy production: a way out of poverty

Small-scale dairy production: a way out …

 New study assesses global perspectives for smallholder milk production

Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in South Africa’s Limpopo province

Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in South…

South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has confirmed the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in the Vhembe District of Limpopo

A quick guide to beef genetics

A quick guide to beef genetics

Darrh Bullock from the University of Kentucky gives a brief introduction to genetics in the cattle industry

Imagindairy secures funding to develop animal-free dairy products

Imagindairy secures funding to develop a…

Imagindairy, a food-tech company creating milk proteins identical to those from cows, has completed a US$13mn seed round

Cattle disease hits Zambia’s beef production levels

Cattle disease hits Zambia’s beef produc…

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has revealed that Zambia’s beef production has been affected by disease outbreaks

Study reveals valuable disease-fighting qualities in African indigenous cattle

Study reveals valuable disease-fighting …

Scientists have revealed a new set of detailed genetic markers and information for African cattle that provide heat and drought tolerance, control of inflammation and tick infestation, and resistance to...

Ugandan cattle farmers to establish US$7 million modern abattoir

Ugandan cattle farmers to establish US$7…

Cattle farmers in Uganda have finished preparations for the construction of a US$7mn modern abattoir to assist them with exporting meat products overseas

Livestock management is key to less desertification

Livestock management is key to less dese…

Livestock is the only management tool available to stop the increasing desertification associated with climate change, according to a grazing management pioneer

Pastoralism can support livelihoods, build peace: FAO director-general

Pastoralism can support livelihoods, bui…

At a panel focused on fostering peace in the Sahel region, FAO director-general QU Dongyu said mobile pastoralism is an important platform for livelihoods in the Sahel region and improved governance can...

Niger imports superior cattle breeds from South Africa

Niger imports superior cattle breeds fro…

Niger has bought more than 72 different breeds of cattle, as well as 700 boar goats and doper sheep, from South African firm UCK Investments

Genetic engineering to help fight against African cattle disease

Genetic engineering to help fight agains…

Scientists have identified two genes which may help the fight against African animal trypanosomiasis, a sleeping sickness transmitted by tsetse fly

Kenyan Dairy Board pushes SACCO model

Kenyan Dairy Board pushes SACCO model

The Kenyan Dairy Board is pushing a savings and credit cooperative organisation (SACCO) model among milk traders to streamline and transform the sector

Prev Next