On March 29, three people sat down at a table in Singapore to eat eight dumplings. The dumplings—or more specifically, the shrimp inside the dumplings—had a price tag of $5,000 and the potential to change the world.
The dinner was actually a demonstration at this year's Disruption in Food and Sustainability Summit. The shrimp in question was a product of Shiok Meats, a company that produces seafood protein in a lab, instead of harvesting it from animals.
Shiok's shrimp is part of a broad industry of meat alternatives, among others like lab-grown “clean meat” and plant-based meat replacements. Like any disruptive industry, the meat alternative market has both the adoration of investors and the ire of incumbents.
Beef industry players have lobbied lawmakers to prevent clean meat from being labeled “beef,” and Missouri has passed a law preventing meat alternative companies from calling their products "meat"—though the law is facing challenges. This effort to use regulators as a weapon is reminiscent of Unilever's 2014 lawsuit against Hampton Creek (now called Just) over its egg-less mayonnaise. Unilever's argument: Calling Hampton Creek's product “Just Mayo” was dishonest considering the product's lack of eggs. Unilever ultimately dropped the suit, though other lobbyist groups would, unsuccessfully, continue to try to regulate Just Mayo's name.
All this regulatory pushback is not stopping the market, however. Beyond Meat, purveyors of the plant-based “Beyond Burger,” IPO'd this month and has already seen share prices boom by 250%—making it the most successful IPO of 2019 (so far). Its competitor Impossible Foods raised a $300 million this week, shortly after announcing a partnership to distribute its burgers in 7,200 Burger King locations nationwide.
Lab-grown meat, also called clean meat, cultured meat, and cell-based meat, is in an earlier stage than plant-based proteins like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. As of today, no company has brought the production price of clean meat low enough to sell to consumers, but investors are betting that the day will come when chicken nuggets grown in a petri dish can be bought at your local grocery store:
Other companies operating in the same space—Mosa Meat, Avant Meats, and BlueNalu, to name a few—have also announced funding rounds.
Established food companies, like Tyson's and Just, have begun developing clean meat products.
The idea that meat can be produced at scale without factory farming is revolutionary, and with the traction these companies already have, it seems the alternative meats industry will continue to be hot for years to come. (Image: YouTube)
Is your hiring process hurting diversity?
Tech's diversity problem is not a secret. Throughout the industry, and especially in technical roles, the majority of employees are white men. This is a problem for a host of reasons, ranging from the obvious, like inclusion and equality, to the economic, like how companies with diverse teams are, on average, more profitable.
Knowing the benefits and importance of diversity, many companies have pledged to build inclusive teams, and yet, many still struggle to do so.
In this piece, we explore three common elements in tech hiring loops—the job posting, the initial screen, the algorithmic interview—and how, when executed incorrectly, they can bias an interview process against candidates from diverse backgrounds.