Eat Just’s Good Meat secures US$170M to scale slaughter-free cultured products

19 May 2021 — Alternative protein player Eat Just, Inc.’s Good Meat division has secured US$170 million to scale up its flagship cultured chicken, which is among the industry’s first-to-market meats made from animal cells instead of slaughtered livestock.

The food-tech trailblazer recently partnered with JW Marriott Singapore South Beach’s Madame Fan. The Cantonese restaurant is set to be among the first restaurants globally to replace conventional chicken with the cultured chicken during set times throughout the day.

Cell-based chicken is deemed highly nutritious, free of pesticides and hormones, as well as cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. As Good Meat looks to ramp up production across Asia and the US, it is eyeing new R&D opportunities to cultivate Japanese-style steaks and other meat types. 

Click to EnlargeJW Marriott Singapore South Beach’s Madame Fan will replace conventional chicken with cultured chicken from Good Meat.“Our first product to receive regulatory approval for sale to consumers is cultured chicken, but we are working on other types of meat, including beef utilizing cells from California pasture-raised cattle and Wagyu from the Toriyama farm in Japan,” Andrew Noyes, head of global communications at Eat Just, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

“We are working on a regulatory pathway in the US and other countries. The company will quickly scale production in North America and Asia through multi-million-dollar investments in facilities, while evaluating collaboration and acquisition opportunities in the fast-growing sector.”

Cultured meat was greenlighted for sale in Singapore as an ingredient in chicken bites just last December. The island nation is the first to give the go-ahead to meat being grown in a lab following a rigorous consultation and review process by the Singapore Food Agency.

“This investment, along with the historic decision by JW Marriott Singapore South Beach, points to what’s ahead: meat without killing animals will replace conventional meat at some point in our lifetimes. The faster we make that happen, the healthier our planet will be,” comments Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.

Cultured chicken in fine dining
The new chef-inspired chicken dishes at JW Marriott Singapore South Beach include Asian-inspired chicken salad with sesame mirin vinaigrette, steamed chicken dumplings and chicken vegetable stir-fry. 

Good Meat will replace conventional chicken for the restaurant’s delivery service on Thursdays, beginning May 20, with once-a-week dine-in options to follow soon. “Our delivery partnership with foodpanda has allowed us to bring these culinary experiences into consumers’ own kitchens,” Noyes remarks.

“This has emerged as a great way for consumers to try our chicken as we scale up. We look forward to working with additional high-quality, mission-aligned restaurants in the future.”Click to EnlargeAs Good Meat looks to ramp up production across Asia and the US, it is eyeing new R&D opportunities to cultivate Japanese-style steaks and other meat types.

Foodservice partnerships are deemed essential for emergent food-tech companies in Singapore, which have been leading the charge in Asia’s alternative protein development. Local start-up Shiok Meats similarly announced foodservice targets while closing a US$12.6 million Series A funding round for scaling up its cell-based shrimp meat.

Eat Just cites results of a recent survey, which found that two-thirds of consumers polled are open to substituting conventional meat with cultured meat. Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of restaurant operators revealed they envision cultured meat replacing all conventional meat in the next decade.

These findings affirm similar analysis recently published in the journal Foods, which goes so far as to suggest that cell-based meat is likely to make up a “major part” of consumers’ future meals. 

Similar nutrient profile, higher sustainability gains
Good Meat Cultured Chicken is high in protein and contains essential amino acids, in addition to being free of antibiotics and low in saturated fat. “Since our cultured chicken cells are derived from actual chicken, the composition is similar to chicken meat,” notes Noyes.

A preliminary study published in Environmental Science & Technology examined the environmental impacts of cultured meat production using a life cycle assessment method. The research found that cultured meat requires 99 percent lower land use and up to 96 percent lower GHG emissions and water use than conventionally produced meat.  

In separate Dutch analysis, cultivated meat produced using renewable energy has been forecasted as likely to compete on costs against conventional meat production in under ten years.

“In addition, it is well documented that major public health crises have been linked to patterns of conventional meat production and consumption. Hence, safer, more efficient and less environmentally harmful ways of producing meat like this are urgently required to satisfy a growing consumer demand,” Noyes remarks.

Click to EnlargeCell-based chicken is deemed highly nutritious, free of pesticides and hormones, as well as cost-effective and environmentally sustainable.“Costs are coming down quickly. In fact, since 2018, we’ve seen a fivefold increase in cell density, a sixfold decrease in media costs, and a forty-fold decrease in total costs. To achieve our mission, we’ll need to be below the cost of conventional chicken, which we expect to happen in the years ahead.”

US$193 billion chicken market
The latest investment arrives from funds managed by UBS O’Connor, a hedge fund manager within UBS Asset Management, Graphene Ventures and K3 Ventures, among others.

“This [new investment] is changing the future in terms of how humanity is fed. Eat Just has led and dominated the plant-based egg category with its JUST Egg products, and with all the efforts made, we’re confident that Good Meat will lead the cultured meat category starting with the US$193 billion chicken market,” comments Nabil Borhanu, founder and managing partner, Graphene Ventures. 

“For us, this is not only about meat, it’s about fueling the growth of planet-friendly food alternatives that can feed a rapidly changing world.”

By Benjamin Ferrer

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