KFC is no stranger to technology but most of the time you see its name in tech news is mostly in relation to some tongue-in-cheek promotion or gimmick. That said, the company best known for its chicken-based menu has also been dipping its fingers in more serious and actually more practical technologies, one that could save its business should there be a severe chicken shortage. Its backup plan goes beyond just Beyond Meat and involves practically 3D printing your next serving of chicken nuggets.
Yes, KFC is practically 3D printing food, though the formal term it uses is 3D bioprinting. Of course, 3D printing edible treats is nothing new, as we’ve seen in the early days of 3D printing with chocolates and confectionery. KFC’s partnership with Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions, however, goes beyond the simple task of heating up ingredients to print them into different shapes.
This particular method involves what sounds almost like an arcane art of combining chicken cells and plant material to reproduce the taste and texture of chicken meat. While 3D Bioprinting will provide the technology and the equipment, KFC’s contribution will be the ingredients, particularly the top-secret blend of spices that made it an icon in the fast-food industry.
The economic, environmental, and ethical benefits of such a process can’t be understated. No chicken will be harmed in the process, for one, and biomeat promises the same nutrients and microelements in the original but without the additives that animal meat gets from traditional farming and animal raising. Growing meat from cells supposedly has less impact on the environment and reduces energy consumption by half.
Of course, its success will all depend on whether the two companies will be able to faithfully recreate the taste and feel of the real deal. Customers in Moscow will be the first to test that theory when the final product becomes ready by Fall of this year.