NSW treasurer defends $25k investment into product banned in Australia

New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean has defended a $25,000 investment into a product that is currently illegal in the state, and has left farmers fuming.

Speaking to Ben Fordham on radio station 2GB on Tuesday morning, Mr Kean confirmed the state government had recently invested in Vow Foods, a business based in Sydney’s inner-west which creates meat through cultivating animal cells.

Vow Foods, started by Sydney locals George Peppou and Tim Noakesmith, says on its website it selects specific cells which can self-renew, before being placed in a cultivator where they grow into meat.

Vow Foods is currently experimenting with kangaroo, goat, water buffalo and alpaca.

Mr Kean said the NSW government invested $25,000 into Vow in 2019, despite ‘fake meat’ currently being banned in Australia due to the country’s strict regulatory requirements.

Camera IconNSW Treasurer Matt Kean said farmers would not be phased out by his government’s investments in ‘fake meat’. 2GB Credit: Supplied

“We can invest in manufacturing here,” Mr Kean said.

He said the company had received “significant” private backing and was now employing 60 people.

Asked how it tasted, Mr Kean said it was “really good”.

“It exceeded my expectations,” he said.

“It was a bit tender but it tasted like meat, so that’s a good thing.”

In 2018-19, the livestock industry was worth more than $17 billion to the Australian economy, and employed more than 400,000 people.

Vow Food founders George Peppou and Tim Noakesmith, whose company creates ‘fake meat’ through cell cultivation. Supplied
Camera IconVow Food founders George Peppou and Tim Noakesmith, whose company creates ‘fake meat’ through cell cultivation. Supplied Credit: Supplied

A recent Senate inquiry into ‘fake meat’ packaging revealed significant animosity from farmers, who objected to plant-based meat brands using pictures of animals of their products.

The NSW Treasurer said on Tuesday Australia’s livestock industry remained “essential to our food security and our national prosperity”.

Mr Kean said Australia’s agriculture was “the best in the world” and fake regenerative and cellular agriculture would complement rather than compete with Australian livestock.

“I’m backing our farmers, Ben.”

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