The fast-food chain KFC sees its future in three dimensions. The American fast food chain wants to create the “restaurant of the future” using 3D printing technology to produce chicken nuggets for our tables. The latter has indeed announced last week a partnership with 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a Russian company specializing in 3D printing through the use of bio-printers capable of producing products based on tissues and organs.
The company, founded in 2013 by the largest pharmaceutical company in the Russian industry, Invitro, is particularly famous for having printed human tissue on the thyroid gland of a rodent during a test aboard the International Space Station ( ISS) made in 2018. Back on planet Earth, the company is now capitalizing on the potential of 3D printed fast food. This notably involves this partnership with the American fast-food giant.
The agreement between KFC and the Moscow-based company will involve the creation in the laboratory of “chicken meat” intended to become as close as possible to standard chicken nuggets.
“The project aims to create the world’s first laboratory-produced chicken nuggets”, explains the management of KFC, for whom “these nuggets should be as close as possible to the original KFC product, both in taste and appearance, while being more ecological to produce than ordinary meat”. The final prototype product trials, which will take place in Moscow, are scheduled for the fall. Note that the products that will result from these experiences will first be available on the Russian market before being marketed internationally according to the agreements concluded by the American chain.
An ecological approach?
For the restaurant chain, the approach is much more virtuous than it might seem. According to KFC, the exploration of 3D printing as a means of producing “meat of the future” was indeed motivated by “the need to develop more environmentally friendly food production methods”, as well as to respond to growing consumer demand for alternatives to traditional meat.
And to recall the results of a study published by the American Environmental Science & Technology Journal according to which the cultivation of meat in the laboratory would make it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 and use 100 times less land than traditional production of meat products.
Please note that 3D printed products will always be based on animal tissue and therefore will not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Chicken nuggets produced in the laboratory will consist of tissue grown from chicken cells combined with plant material to reproduce the taste and texture of typical chicken. The bio-printed meat will then be spiced and breaded “to obtain the characteristic taste of KFC”, as the fast-food chain reported.
“At KFC, we follow all the latest trends and innovations closely and do our best to stay up-to-date by introducing cutting-edge technology into our restaurant networks,” said Raisa Polyakova, Managing Director of KFC Russia at of the conclusion of this agreement. For the latter, it is a logical development for the chain, “artisanal meat products being the next step” in the 3D printing revolution.
A virtuous production, explains KFC
With the prospect of global warming and the environmental impact of animal husbandry to meet the demand for meat and concerns about animal welfare, the mass production of laboratory-grown food today hui blooms among industrialists.
“Scientists around the world are working hard on solutions that would ensure a stable food supply for the growing world population while reducing the negative impact on the environment,” said KFC management. For her, “the use of technologies based on 3D bioprinting is promising in this area”.
According to a study carried out in 2011 by the University of Oxford and the University of Amsterdam, the production of so-called cultured meat could reduce greenhouse gases by 96% compared to the breeding of pigs, sheep and cows. In addition, researchers estimate that the production of cultured meat could ultimately require 45% less energy, 99% less land use and 96% less water use.
2020 should be a pivotal year for the 3D printing industry. According to a new report from 3D Hubs, the total value of 3D printed parts increased by 300% in 2019. More than 550,000 parts were 3D printed in the 3D Hubs ecosystem alone, and the total value of 3D printed parts tripled. According to HP, which aims to establish itself as one of the giants of the sector, the year 2020 should accelerate the adoption of 3D printing by businesses and will see additive manufacturing replace traditional manufacturing methods in many use cases.