Following the regulatory approval of Aleph Farm’s cultivated meat in Israel, can Israel position itself as a global alt-meat leader?


 A worker stacks packets of ground beef in the meat section of a Costco warehouse  (photo credit:  REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
A worker stacks packets of ground beef in the meat section of a Costco warehouse (photo credit: REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

Last week, Aleph Farms, a pioneering cultivated-meat start-up, achieved a historic milestone by gaining approval from Israeli regulators to sell lab-grown meat products. The Israeli government’s proactive confirmation of cultivated beef products signifies a significant departure from its traditional reliance on global regulatory benchmarks, particularly from the FDA.

Alla Voldman Rantzer, vice president of policy and strategy at the Good Food Institute (GFI) Israel, an organization at the forefront of promoting alternative proteins, emphasized the importance of the country’s regulatory decision.

A game-changer for Israel

“The Israeli regulator has proactively confirmed – for the first time – cultivated beef products, and this new innovative technology is a very strong signal of support by the government and a stronger belief in innovation in the regulatory space,” she said in a press release.

In Israel, where the ecosystem for technological innovation is robust, this approval is seen as a game-changer, Voldman Rantzer said.

“I think it’s positive for the entire cultivated meat sector,” she said, adding that the Israeli market puts a strong focus on alternative proteins and a consumer base with a substantial percentage of weekend vegetarians. “The Israeli consumer is unique. There is a significant amount of weekend vegetarians; and kosher, adhering to Jewish dietary laws, plays a massive role as well.”

There is strategic significance of cultivated meat for Israel’s food security, Voldman Rantzer said. With a reliance on imported beef, fish, and grains, Israel faces vulnerabilities in the global food system. The approval of lab-grown meat is viewed as a crucial step toward diversifying protein sources, reducing dependency on imports, and fortifying national food security.

“Alternative protein becomes strategic assets for strengthening national food security because it can diversify protein sources, raw materials, and create another way of producing locally without reducing the dependency on imports,” she said.

 Alla Voldman-Ratnzer, VP Policy & Strategy, GFI Israel (credit:  Dana Casspi)
Alla Voldman-Ratnzer, VP Policy & Strategy, GFI Israel (credit: Dana Casspi)

While the Israeli consumer market may be primed for a boom in cultivated meat, whether the country has the necessary infrastructure to keep up with demand remains to be seen.

Israel has identified a scale-up challenge and is implementing various programs and initiatives to support the industry, Voldman Rantzer said.

“Israel is acknowledging the fact that there is a challenge in the scale-up of this industry,” she said. “A lot of it is still nascent, and not many of these companies have reached the market.”

There is a need for funding and support for the infrastructure, land, and space required for the industry to grow, Voldman Rantzer said. The Israel Innovation Authority and the government are working on programs to bridge the funding gap, enabling private investors to step in, she said.

Among the challenges facing the success of the burgeoning cultivated-meat industry is a need for continued investment and infrastructure support to overcome technological barriers and ensure successful commercialization.

Citing the global trend of countries working on establishing regulatory frameworks for alternative proteins, Voldman Rantzer envisioned a future of international collaboration, suggesting that countries should leverage each other’s strengths and expertise to create frameworks and trade agreements beneficial for the technology.

“I think it makes sense for countries to start working more together and not necessarily just for each country to promote their local ecosystem,” she said.

Aleph Farms’s recent regulatory approval in Israel is not just a win for a single company, Voldman Rantzer said, adding that it also marks a pivotal moment for the entire cultivated meat sector and highlights the potential of lab-grown meat to revolutionize global food systems and enhance food security throughout the country.