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Cell-based chicken curry, anyone?

Novel food firms are dreaming big about market expansion, but first they must overcome diners' doubts and a huge cost hurdle.

Billion-dollar novel foods start-up Eat Just is leveraging the popularity and affordability of Singapore’s hawker food in its latest publicity drive.

Some diners recently got to try curry rice topped with cell-based chicken bites at 76-year-old eatery, Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice, for a promotional price of S$4 (US$2.90) — the average spend at hawker centres.

Eat Just is putting its vision of mass market sales on diners’ plates, even as research suggests it would take over a decade for the cost of lab-cultured proteins to drop sufficiently so that they’re affordable for consumers, unless there are technological breakthroughs down the road. At present, cultured meat is 100 to 10,000 times more expensive than slain animals, according to research commissioned by United States-based Good Food Institute, a non-profit that promotes cellular alternatives to animal products.

Not all consumers in Singapore, the only country to approve the sale of cell-based meat, are ready to dig right in either. Experts say more awareness and regulatory support could be key.

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