Eat Just has raised more than $650m to date to fuel its vision of creating a plant-based egg alternative (made from mung bean protein) that's below the price of conventional chicken eggs. Last year, the company entered the nascent cell-cultured meat sector with the launch of GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken in Singapore, where it's being served in a variety of preparations from chicken skewers to dumplings.
The new funding round was led by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, private investment firm Charlesbank Capital Partners, and Vulcan Capital, the investment arm of the estate of the late Paul G. Allen, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist.
Besides having access to fresh capital, Eat Just founder and CEO Josh Tetrick noted: "We were very fortunate that we were able to choose who we wanted to partner with.
"The thing they all have in common is, they see pretty clearly what the food system is today and what it should be... and they see a pretty big gap," Tetrick told FoodNavigator-USA.
"All three of them are incredibly connected whether it be to major food manufacturers across the world, or being very respected by public market investors. There's virtually no company or person we can't reach through their networks. That’s obviously really good from a strategic perspective."
'The assumption you need to kill an animal to eat an animal, is just a wrong one'
"The capital is to push really towards being the first global egg brand, and eventually the No. 1 egg consumed. And then for GOOD Meat it’s about scaling up capacity first in Singapore, driving R&D, so we can move beyond chicken to beef to pork," Tetrick added.
With dedicated production facilities in the US and Singapore, Tetrick said the most simplistic way to execute against this vision is building massive capacity and production.
JUST Egg (sold in a variety of formats including a pourable liquid egg, and ready-heat omelet and sous vide egg bites) has surpassed the equivalent of 100 million eggs sold and reaching 1 million households, and compared to a conventional chicken egg which costs roughly $0.08/egg, the company has brought its price down to just below $0.20.
And for GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken, the ultimate goal is to reach price parity with conventional chicken, the most affordable animal protein in the world.
"The goal is in the next five to 10 years to get below the cost of chicken. We’ll get there by moving from 1,000 liters (of production) to 5,000 liters to 10,000 and larger. And by increasing our cell densities and by lowering the cost of media," said Tetrick.
According to the company, cultured meat could become a $13bn market by 2030 and early consumer research conducted with a leading management consultant firm in February suggests that the concept of cell-cultured meat is landing well with consumers.
In the survey, which gathered responses from 2,522 US respondents and 1,175 Singapore respondents, 72% of US chicken consumers and 83% of Singapore chicken consumers shown photos and descriptions of cultured meat concept said they would consider purchasing. Additionally, 72% of US consumers and 75% of Singapore consumers have expressed willingness to substitute conventional chicken with cell-cultured chicken.
While Eat Just is building a strong consumer following, the company has only reached a small fraction of the total addressable market for plant-based eggs and cell-cultured chicken, said Tetrick.
"There are still plenty of people who are buying eggs today that don’t even realize that a chicken doesn’t have to be the only thing that makes an egg. For meat, we really want to build the brand of GOOD Meat and let people know that the assumption you need to kill an animal to eat an animal, is just a wrong one. You can eat an animal without slaughter. I want us to build a brand around that," he said.