A parfait made from Japanese quail cells has become the first Australian lab-grown meat to hit the world market. 

Singapore’s food regulator approved Vow’s quail foie gras for sale in March, making it only the second cell-cultured meat product to become available in the island city-state.

Singapore was the first country in the world to approve cultured meat in December 2020, with the United States following last year.

Vow has received initial approval from Australia’s food regulator to supply their cell-based meat products here, with a final decision anticipated by the end of the year.

Luxury product, high price point

Vow chief executive George Peppou said their products had a market among Singapore’s luxury restaurants.

“Think of it as among the highest price point of any kind of animal protein you’d find,” he said.

“I can’t share the exact numbers — it’s a little bit commercially sensitive — but it would be among the most expensive proteins you’d find anywhere from any kind of distributor in Singapore.”

Australia’s Forged parfait is the second cell-cultured meat product to become available in Singapore.(Supplied: Forged)

The parfait, sold under the brand name Forged, was described by the owner of Singapore’s Tippling Club, Ryan Clift, as rich, sweet and delicate with a “perfect” texture.

Mr Peppou said the company planned to maintain focus on novelty food products that were difficult to access.

“There’s no point trying to replicate beef, chicken or pork. It’s a fool’s errand,” he said.

“I love eating meat myself, and there’s no way that I’m going to be tricked, let alone we’re going to trick anyone else into thinking they’re eating a new version of the same thing.

“So instead, let’s use this new technology to offer something which is distinctive from what we already consume.”

Chefs Adem Kurcan [left] and Kevin Condon [right] with Vow founder George Peppou.(Supplied: Forged)

New food frontiers

Vow passed the first step in Australia’s food safety approval process during December.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) found the quail cell product was safe to eat and presented no health or nutritional risks.

The regulator said Vow’s product was genetically stable with “very low” bacteria-related risks.

FSANZ has proposed using the term “cell-cultured” on labelling, a move supported by the industry.

There are four cultured meat companies in Australia and New Zealand.

Vow chief operating officer Ellen Dinsmoor said Singapore was “the clear choice” to launch their products.

“We knew we wanted to launch our products into the Singaporean market first, not only because of the globally renowned culinary scene, but also because of the clear regulatory pathways and the ease of doing business,” she said.

She said Vow was producing more than 100 kilograms of cultivated meat cells each month, with plans to “ramp up” production.