A start-up company called Gourmey is trying to produce foie gras from cultivated cells, rather than the fattened livers of ducks or geese. Romain Buisson, via Gourmey

The French Start-Up Company Shifting the Way Foie Gras is Produced

Whether you recognise foie gras for its impeccable taste or for its unethical practices – the French delicacy has remained a divisive topic over the years.

While the method is developed in French culture and law – the product of this unsustainable system has been restricted in countries across the world, including Australia. However, more often than not, the importation of foie gras remains legal and so restaurants continue to dish up the delicacy.

One French company is stepping in to change this – providing an alternative and ethical solution to the method while still being able to enjoy foie gras in all its glory.

Lab-grown foie gras

With lab-grown burgers and chicken hitting the market in the last couple of years, cultured meat has become both a symbol of hope to animal rights activists and a threat to the foie gras industry.

While traditional foie gras production practices involve the use of metal feeding tubes and confined cages to force-feed the geese in a process called ‘gavage’, the same fattened goose liver can now be grown in a petri dish.

French start-up company Gourmey is leading the way in removing the need for animal brutality and animals altogether in this space. Recently, the start-up raised A$13.4 million in funding to produce foie gras through its perfected cell-cultured process.

With a pilot production line expected by late 2022 or early 2023, Gourmey hopes to create foie gras that is truly ethical and that will reach price parity with its competitors.

“We really want to take cultivated meat into our gastronomy, and we believe chef adoption will essentially be the best label on cultivated meat products,” Gourmey CEO Nicolas Morin-Forest told Bloomberg.

“The ambition is that in many places cultivated foie gras not only will be the best option, but it will be the only option.”

Currently, the only ethical alternatives that aren’t vegan include forking out around A$300 for a single jar of Paterià du Sousa’s natural foie gras or chicken-liver infused foie gras.

The start-up also aims to lower its costs and plans to start growing chicken, turkey and duck meats.

One of the biggest obstacles for cell-cultured meat has been its cost. Mr. Morin-Forest says Gourmey’s lab-grown foie gras costs less than $1,180 (1,000 euros) per kilogram. Made in the traditional way, foie gras costs about €100 to €200 a kilogram.

But first, its foie gras will need certification from health authorities—so far only Singapore has approved lab-grown meat, for chicken nuggets made by a US firm.

Initially, Gourmey will look to market its livers in the US and Asia, “where there is both an obvious need and a more advanced regulatory climate,” Morin-Forest said.

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