Eat Just Raises $97 Million More to Fund Cultured Meat Production
(Bloomberg) -- Eat Just Inc., the San Francisco-based maker of plant-based egg products, raised $97 million in new funding to advance the company’s work on cultured meat.
The investment, which was part of a round announced in May that raised $170 million, came from new groups including Resilience Reserve, a venture capital fund, and existing backers like hedge fund UBS O’Connor and Graphene Ventures. This brings the round to $267 million, making it the largest ever for cultivated meat, which backers say will help to meet the world’s rising demand for animal products in a more humane and environmentally friendly way.
Eat Just is also adding Dan Glickman, a former U.S. agriculture secretary, to its advisory board, and Jim Borel, a former executive at DuPont, to its board of directors.
Investors are jockeying for position as the prospect of selling meat that’s grown from cells, instead of butchered from slaughtered animals, comes closer to reality, according to Eat Just Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick. “This is becoming less foggy, more concrete,” he said in an interview, citing the company’s progress in Singapore. Eat Just will use the investment to boost production, primarily by designing and engineering bioreactors that are used to grow the cell-based meat.
Much larger equipment is necessary to turn the company’s cell-based chicken into a mass consumer product. Currently, the company’s largest bioreactors are 1,200 liters (317 gallons) — a machine that would fit in a normal garage. In order to meet the company’s goal of providing supply for tens of thousands of points of sale, however, Eat Just needs reactors that have capacity for more than 100,000 liters, according to Tetrick.
Such operations will require significant energy, the amount and source of which will be key to determining cultured meat’s sustainability. It’s still not clear where that energy will be produced or how much will be needed, but Tetrick said it’s “highly likely” it will be more environmentally friendly than conventional meat production.
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