China has revealed it is serious about quickly developing a fake food industry.
The world's biggest importer of animal-based protein is rapidly delivering on a directive from president Xi JinPing to fast track development of alternative proteins.
President Xi last month told his agriculture officials to pursue protein sources outside traditional livestock industries as a way of securing the country's food supply.
China has been forced to rely on world markets, including Australian supplies, to secure enough meat since an African swine fever outbreak devastated its pig industries.
China's new enthusiasm for fake foods has excited global developers of these products given the enormous size of the domestic market.
About 30 companies from within and outside China came together for a summit on "cellular agriculture" earlier in the month.
They represented cultivated meat producers, research teams and potential infrastructure partners.
The Cellular Agriculture Forum was held in China on April 19.
Cultivated, or cellular meat, is food grown from cells taken from animal cells in a laboratory.
The forum was intended to consider public acceptance of technologies and products related to cellular agriculture.
It also sought to set in place the building blocks for a regulatory environment for these new foods.
"The forum hopes to unite stakeholders (academia, regulatory authorities, industry groups, etc.) across the field of cellular agriculture to establish a China-focused industry platform, laying the groundwork for future joint efforts in promoting public acceptance in the Chinese market space."
As made public by President Xi, cultivated meat was listed in the 14th Five-Year Plan of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The forum was advised "the Chinese government has already posted a positive attitude towards this new technology".
Representatives from the China Meat Research Center and China Meat Association also took part in the forum.
China-based cultivated meat startups were drawn to the summit to "recognise the urgent need for the industry to come together and work as a group to promote and grow".
"I believe the forum today is a great starting point for more collaborations between companies within China and with international players interested in entering China," CellX founder Ziliang Yang said.
CellX is a cellular agriculture startup based in Shanghai.
Overseas companies and organisations involved in the forum included Aleph Farms, APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture, Aleph Farms, BlueNalu, IntegriCulture Inc., Mission Barns, Mosa Meat, Shiok Meats, SuperMeat, TurtleTree Labs, UPSIDE Foods, Merck KGaA and the Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture.
The forum was told cellular agriculture can reduce the use of energy, water and arable land for food production.
Despite trade frostiness between Australia and China, their appetite for our red meat exports is growing.
China president Xi JinPing spoke at length about food security during the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on March 6.
He urged his officials to develop plant-based, fermented and cell-cultured animal protein in additional to traditional food sources to secure food supply and protect the environment.
President Xi said science and technology were key to food security
He emphasised the importance of keeping the nation fed and underlined ensuring the supply of key agricultural products, especially grain, as a top priority.
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