South Korea Establishes Special Zone to Advance Cultivated Meat Industry

South Korea has designated a regulatory-free zone in Gyeongsangbuk-do to promote the development and commercialization of cultivated meat. This initiative aims to support the growth of the cultivated meat industry by providing regulatory exemptions, particularly for the use of biopsies and same-day slaughtered tissues.

The Gyeongbuk Cell-Cultivated Foods Regulatory-Free Special Zone (RFSZ) will host 10 cultivated meat companies, including TissenBioFarm, known for its 10kg piece of cultivated meat. TissenBioFarm’s CEO, Wonil Han, views this initiative as a turning point for the company and the local economy. Sam Lawrence from the Good Food Institute highlighted the importance of efficient meat production for a sustainable food system in Asia.

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Introduced by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups in 2019, RFSZs aim to create a flexible business environment for innovative technologies. The cultivated meat RFSZ is the first to focus on food, with a five-year operational period starting next month and a budget of ₩19.9 billion ($14.4 million). The zone will help startups improve the flavor, texture, and cell growth of cultivated meat.

The government is also building a Good Manufacturing Practice facility and has completed a local industry support center in the Bio Valley General Industrial Complex. Companies such as LARTBIO, DaNAgreen, and Seawith will work on commercializing cultivated foods in this zone. Peter Yu from the APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture noted that the regulatory-free zone will help build consumer trust and tailor products to preferences.

This initiative follows the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety’s regulatory framework for cultivated meat approval, which requires safety verification and detailed documentation. The approval process can take up to 270 working days. Despite progress, challenges remain in achieving economic efficiency, flavor, and price parity with conventional meat.

A recent survey by the APAC-SCA indicated that while many South Koreans are willing to try cultivated meat, price and taste are crucial factors. Overall, South Korea’s efforts to modernize regulations and support cultivated meat innovation signal a significant shift toward integrating this technology into the country’s food system.

(image: TissenBioFarm)


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