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How do we bring Cellular Agriculture to the Consumer? Highlights from AU FOODs conference

From the 11th to the 13th of June, the Department of Food Science had the pleasure of hosting the International Cellular Agriculture Conference in scenic Aarhus, Denmark. If you were not able to participate, you can get the highlights below.

Jette Feveile Young, Professor in Differentiated & Biofunctional Foods at Department of Food Science, Aarhus University welcomed guests to Agro Food Park on behalf of the organising committee. Photo: Jens Hartmann Schmidt, AU Foto
Photo: Jens Hartmann Schmidt, AU Foto
Photo: Jens Hartmann Schmidt, AU Foto
Photo: Jens Hartmann Schmidt, AU Foto
Photo: Jens Hartmann Schmidt, AU Foto
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre
Photo: Mette Bjerre

Close to 130 researchers, students, industry professionals and other interested parties gathered in Aarhus, Denmark in mid-June to share knowledge about Cellular Agriculture over three exciting days under the overarching theme of “Bringing Cellular Agriculture to the Consumer”.

On the first day, visitors had the opportunity to participate in a welcome reception at The Department of Food Science, and also tour the state-of-the-art facilities, which are located in Agro Food Park just north of Aarhus.   

AU FOOD supplied refreshments while singers from Aarhus University Choir provided the entertainment.

Important subject

On wednesday morning, the exhibition programme started with a welcome speech by Vice-Dean for research at the Faculty of Technical Sciences, Brian Vinter, that highlighted the importance of the budding research field:

“Our core food production is at risk, and when things take a turn for the worse, science comes to the rescue. I see everyone here today as freedom fighters for the next generation,” he said.

Thus encouraged, the conference participants were ready to start a day filled with presentations from researchers all over the world.

Cell line development and AI

The first speakers of the day addressed technical challenges and solutions at lab level, led by first keyote speaker of the conference Andrew Stout.  

The Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Director of Science, at the Cellular Agriculture Commercialisation Lab at Tufts University shared his insights on how cell line development can reduce the cost of cultured foods.

He concluded that when working with this technology, the trick is fitting the approach to the needs and the restraints of the country and legal framework, you are working within.  

After the first keynote it was time for the first speakers chosen from the submitted abstracts. Here Martin Krøyer Rasmussen, Associate Professor at The Department of Food Science at Aarhus University presented results showing that certain antimicrobial peptides can inhibit bacterial growth.

Hereafter Armaghan Amanipour, Research Assistant at Texas A&M University presented on the potential of harnessing artificial intelligence applications to optimise cell culture media development, concluding that the framework has great potential to help optimise various parameters in cultivated meat production.

The second keynote of the conference was held by Nina Aro, Principal Scientist at VTT, Technical Research Centre of Finland.

She gave a talk on engineering fungi for improved protein production by precision fermentation, underlining the need for more research into fields such as host organism safety and suitability, strain engineering and bioprocess design.

Forestry biomass and agrifood biproducts

After a break including time for both poster viewing and lunch, the last portion of speakers of the day also addressed technical challenges and solutions – but this time related to upscaling.  

The third keynote of the day “Upcycling underutilized forestry biomass into high-value microbial protein sources for aquafeeds” was given by Margareth Øverland, Professor in aquaculture nutrition at NMBU, The Norwegian University of Life Sciences and
Center Director of a Center for Research-based Innovation (CRI), Foods of Norway.

She presented the potential in fostering a circular feed system utilizing nutrient recycling, non-food waste streams to advance a circular bioeconomy – highlighting microbial ingredients from non-food resources such as forestry biomass as an important possible solution.

After this, it was yet again time to hear from speakers chosen from the abstracts. Eevi Hyttinen, Research Scientist at VTT, Technical Research Centre of Finland, gave a presentation about agrifood by-products as potential feedstock and Laura Garcia-Calvo from Nofima, the Norwegian food research institute, spoke about the potential of using by-products from the dairy industry for high-value food ingredients.

Scaling towards 1£ cultured meat

Following this, Marie Gibbons, Chief Scientific Officer of Re:Meat gave the fourth keynote of the day, titled “1£/kg for cultivated meat: Optimising production efficiency and key considerations for scaling up”, sharing the company’s vision of some of the ways in which cultivated meat could become cheaper in the future.

The keynote was followed by another short oral presentation by Helder Bandarra-Tavares, PhD Student at Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon in Portugal. He spoke about the development of a scalable platform for the production of bovine fat for cultivated meat.

The last oral presentation was followed by a panel discussion led by Acacia Smith, Vice-President EIT Food Protein Diversification Think Tank and Senior Policy Manager Good Food Institute, who with the three panelists dove into the challenges and opportunities of scaling up cellular agriculture.  

The day ended with a conference dinner and a concert by a local band.

Regulations and acceptance

First keynote speaker of the second day, Christiaan Kalk who is a Senior Consultant in Food Safety, Health and Regulations started the day by exemplifying how difficult it is to get a novel food approved by using an example of cultivated moose under the headline “Elg for alle”.

The presentation highlighted the many different aspects of getting a novel food approved – not only looking at it from a strictly regulatory viewpoint, but also summing up the cost and work it takes, clarifying why novel foods can be a field that it is very difficult for smaller companies to get into.

Sustainable proteins and edible microcarriers

The keynote was followed by two oral presentations chosen from the abstracts. The first one was presented by Herwig Bachmann, Expertise Group Leader Fermentation at NIZO food research and Assistant Professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam who gave a presentation on production, separation and characterization of microbial proteins for food applications.

His insights were followed by a presentation from Maria Florencia Bambace, Postdoc at The Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University, who presented results on novel precision fermentation as a source of sustainable proteins.

After another break with time for poster viewing, Feng-Chun Yen, PhD Student from Technion presented recent findings relating to commercial viability of plant-based edible microcarriers, after which the conference participants had time to enjoy lunch.

Ethics and acceptance

The second keynote of the day was given by Professor Emeritus at the Center for the Study of the Sciences and Humanities (SVT) at the University of Bergen, Matthias Kaiser. He spoke about the ethical and philosophical aspects within the field of cultivated meat.   

After this Anneli Ritala, Principal Scientist in Plant Biotechnology at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland presented findings from a workshop, giving insights on public opinion related to a vision of a circular future food court in 2040.

She was followed by Hanna Tuomisto, Professor at Department for Agricultural Sciences at University of Helsinki, who presented the first ever life cycle analysis of undifferientiated cells for cultivated meat production.

Concluding the scientific presentations of the conference was Barbara Vad Andersen, Tenure Track Assistant Professor at The Department of Food Science at Aarhus University. She spoke about views on adopting cell-based foods in professional kitchens.

See you in June 2025!

Circling back and underlining the importance of the theme of the conference, Bringing Cellular Agriculture to the Consumer, Professor Jette Feveile Young shared her highlights from the second day and the point that resonated with her most:

“Where already existing foods are innocent until proven guilty, it’s the exact opposite for novel foods. They are guilty until proven innocent.”

Organiser and Professor Jette Feveile Young ended the conference by thanking all of the participants for their questions and engagement and thanking the speakers and everyone behind the scenes for making the conference happen.

In the summer of 2025, the Third International Cellular Agriculture Conference will be hosted by Lund University in Sweden.

We are looking forward to seeing you there for another conference filled with the newest knowledge about Cellular Agriculture, exciting debates and exciting networking sessions.

See you next year!