Listen: Will the burger of the future be made of plants, meat or cultured cells?

Leading meat scientist Professor Robyn Warner discussed the science challenges around the nutritional value, sustainability and consumer acceptance of the “burger of the future”, whether it is produced from meat, plants or cells in a recent Dean’s Research Seminar.
Professor Robyn Warner
Professor Robyn Warner.

The global demand for protein is increasing, and meeting this demand is an essential aspect of food security. Simultaneously, traditional agriculture is reaching production and sustainability limits.

A new protein production landscape is rapidly evolving to meet this demand. This includes cell-based and plant-based products, with strong interest from manufacturers, incubators, non-profits and academia, and funding from both the industry and venture capital seed and growth firms.

Plant-based burgers are increasingly common in food service (restaurants, cafes, takeaway) and on supermarket shelves, and there is also potential for burgers to be made from cultivated meat, algae or other cells.

Professor Warner leads the Future Food Hallmark Research Initiative, a multi-disciplinary, University of Melbourne-funded project applying a wide range of disciplines to alternative protein, including cultivated meat production.

In the seminar, she draws on the major research themes of the project, including human nutrition, lifecycle analysis and water footprints, food science and engineering, consumer science, food policy and labelling to discuss how we may produce the meat, and ‘meat’, of the future.

Robyn Warner is Professor (Meat Science) and the Domain Leader for Food and Nutritional Science in the School of Agriculture and Food at the University of Melbourne.

Her areas of interest and expertise include generally, developing a through chain approach to ensuring a sustainable future food industry, and specifically, packaging interventions and smart packaging, consumer sensory perceptions and fundamental investigations of the biology biochemistry and biophysics of muscle and food in determining tenderness, colour, flavour and shelf life.

Professor Warner is Australia’s contact person for the annual International Congress of Meat Science and Technology, the editor-in-chief for the Meat Science section of the online journal Food, and the Chair of the University of Melbourne-sponsored Future Food Hallmark Research Initiative. Professor Warner has published over 100 papers in refereed journals and has received international and national awards for her role on the Meat Standards Australia food grading scheme.