Despite costing £220,000 to make and having a texture as slippery as squid, scientists are working on the world’s first test-tube burger.

The “meat”, which is made from muscle cells in huge vats, would be kinder to the environment and to animals, while also helping to feed the world’s escalating population.

Boffins say other processed meats may follow the substitute burger, which may be under a year away, however pork chops and steaks will be more difficult to replicate.

Although it costs more than most people would spend on their dinner, if the substitute was produced on an industrial scale, the price would be the same as or less than actual meat.

It is made by incubating the muscle cells in a protein “broth”, where they multiply to create a tissue that has the same consistency as undercooked eggs.

 This “wasted muscle” is bulked up by being anchored to Velcro and stretched – like exercising a real muscle but in a lab setting.

Mark Post, a researcher at Maastricht University said: “I am hopeful we can have a hamburger in a year.”

At the moment the tissue – taken from living animals – only creates a grey and soggy product at 2.5cm long and less than a centimetre wide.

But researchers say with the right conditions, just ten pork muscle cells could make 50,000 tons of meat in two months.

The process could also open up the possibility of eating animals that aren’t traditionally farmed, such as pandas.

At a conference in Sweden, researchers heard that the meat we eat isn’t the tastiest, but it just comes from animals that are easier to tame and farm.

Professor Post also said “in vitro” meat could help stop food shortages as the world population grows.

He said he plans to improve the look and texture of the substitute meat and is confident that the technology will work.

But, because safety testing needs to be carried out, it could be ten to 15 years before it hits supermarkets.