Last week, Smithfield Foods the world’s largest pork producer (valued at $14B), announced that it will explore a new business angle: Using its pigs for medical purposes like organ transplants.
So instead of putting their pork in hot dogs…
They’re putting it in people
Wait, that came out wrong. New genetic breakthroughs (i.e., CRISPR) could make it possible to use pig organs, like hearts or lungs, for human transplant.
Which sounds weird and gross, but would be a literal lifesaver for the 118k patients waiting months or even years for an available organ in the US.
Smithfield maintains that they are a food company first but, as of this month, they’ve also launched a separate segment, Smithfield Bioscience, to oversee all things medical.
They’re also part of a “public-private-tissue-engineering consortium” with $80m in grant funding from the US Department of Defense.
It isn’t just some PR bologna — it’s a lucrative market
The market for pork byproducts used for non-food purposes is already $100B in the US alone, not factoring in the potential for xenotransplants (animal-to-human).
And, since researchers and healthcare companies currently buy parts through third parties, Smithfield stands to do pretty well for themselves if they start selling direct from their farms.
That is, if someone like George Church, a leading xenoplant researcher, doesn’t do it first. His company eGenesis Bio just raised $38m in venture funding for the sole purpose of growing pig organs for human transplant.