How Investors Are Betting on Foie Gras Grown From Cells in a Lab


Others had doubts. Marco Moreira, the chef and owner of 15 East at Tocqueville in New York, said he was skeptical.

“I wouldn’t oppose it, but again, I’m a little bit of a traditionalist,” said Mr. Moreira, who has several dishes containing foie gras on his menu. “Why mess with something that’s perfect as it is?” Still, he said he was open to trying it.

Investors have poured money into food technology start-ups in recent years amid concerns about food shortages in the coming decades as the global population grows. Cell-cultivated meat does not yet have regulatory approval in most countries, but last year, in a first for the laboratory meat industry, a San Francisco company, Eat Just, won government approval by the city-state of Singapore to sell cultured chicken as an ingredient in chicken nuggets.

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.

The European Commission and France’s public bank, Bpifrance, have also provided subsidies to support Gourmey, which was started in 2019 and has about 20 employees.

Mr. Morin-Forest said Gourmey was seeking regulatory approval from food safety agencies and hoped to enter the market by late next year or early 2023. Its focus will be on markets like Singapore and the United States, where there is increasing acceptance of lab-grown meat, he said.

Stéphane Chambon, the chef of Le Pont de l’Ouysse, a Michelin-starred restaurant in southwest France known for its foie gras, said that the movement against foie gras on animal rights grounds was misguided and that the process of raising ducks or geese for foie gras by overfeeding them mimicked a natural one: Centuries ago, when geese and duck crossed the Mediterranean from Egypt, they would eat a lot for energy, causing their livers to engorge, he said.