Eat Just Partners With Chef José Andrés on Cultivated Chicken
(Bloomberg) -- Eat Just Inc., a maker of plant-based egg products, is collaborating with celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés on the U.S. launch of its cultivated chicken.
Andrés is taking a board seat at the company’s Good Meat subsidiary. He has also pledged to feature the chicken on one of his menus after it's cleared by U.S. regulators and expects to roll it out to others in his portfolio of more than 30 restaurants.
“I can see a good fit with my Pepe Food Truck, Pepe Disney Springs and Beefsteak restaurants, and will aim to keep the price competitive," Andrés said in an interview.
San Francisco-based Eat Just became the first company to sell cultivated meat when its chicken was introduced at select Singapore restaurants late last year. Eat Just has raised $267 million in 2021 to scale up output for its Good Meat division as it prepares to expand in Singapore, as well as in the U.S. and Qatar. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick expects regulatory approval in Qatar soon, and Andrés says he’s hopeful U.S. approval will be granted in 2022. If Qatar comes first, Andrés would be open to serving the chicken there.
“Doha has been on my list of cities for awhile to do a restaurant, and depending on approvals, neighboring Dubai would be the perfect place to do a popup with the chicken during the 2022 World Cup," Andrés said.
Traditional poultry production carries the risk of pathogenic diseases such as Avian flu and also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Eat Just manufactures meat by cultivating protein directly from the cells of animals without the need to slaughter them.
“Our goal is to make tens of millions of pounds, ultimately billions of pounds, in stainless steel vessels where you don’t need to use all those animals, all that land," Tetrick said in an interview. Working with Andrés will allow the company to meet small family farmers around the world and use their cell lines to make higher quality products, he said.
McKinsey & Co. projects the cultured meat market could reach $25 billion globally by 2030, depending on consumer acceptance and price. Investors have been pouring money into the space including more than $800 million raised by Eat Just since its founding in 2011. Backers include the Qatar Investment Authority and Heineken family as well as notable tech investors such as Khosla Ventures, Peter Thiel, Salesforce.com co-founder Marc Benioff and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin. Eat Just has said it will consider options for going public once it becomes profitable.
The company plans to expand capacity in Singapore now that it has just received approval to sell new cuts of cultivated chicken, including chicken breast. The product will debut next week at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach and later in 2022 at Singapore’s famed hawker centers where street vendors sell affordable meals.
Critics say scaling production of cultivated meat may be impossible, according to an analysis by the Counter, a food-focused nonprofit news organization. And even if it happens, questions remain about whether companies can make cultured meats competitive on price, or better for the environment, than conventional meat. Eat Just also faces competition from startups such as Upside Foods, whose investors include Cargill Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., Richard Branson and Bill Gates.
Eat Just has been expanding sales of its Just Egg product line in the U.S. and globally with distribution across Canada, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, China and South Africa. Tetrick aims to enter the U.K. and Western European markets in 2022 and plans to ultimately use the same distribution channels to sell products from Good Meat.
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