Eat Just to Build Cultured-Meat Plant in Qatar Amid Global Push
(Bloomberg) -- Eat Just Inc., a San Francisco-based startup making cultured chicken and vegan eggs, plans to build a commercial facility in Qatar to produce cell-based meat as it looks to expand into new markets overseas.
The company is partnering with state-backed Doha Venture Capital and the Qatar Free Zones Authority to build the large-scale plant, which could take two years to complete, according to Eat Just Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick. The effort could cost more than $200 million, with a “relevant chunk” of that coming from an investment by the venture firm, Tetrick said without disclosing the exact amount.
The new facility will be significantly larger than the one Eat Just uses to produce in Singapore, which recently became the first country to approve the sale of cell-based chicken. Cultured meat, which is grown from cells instead of slaughtering live animals, could become a $25 billion industry by 2030, according to a recent report from McKinsey & Co.
“We want to build facilities that are making a lot of meat,” Tetrick said in an interview. Plans are in place to eventually add capacity to also produce the company’s Just Egg product, made from mung beans.
The company chose Qatar in part because of its openness to cultured meat and desire to find innovative, long-term solutions to food security, he said. It also gives Eat Just a foothold in the Middle East and North Africa region, potentially allowing for future exports to areas such as western Europe.
The Qatar Free Zones Authority, which oversees and advocates for the country’s economic free zones, and the Ministry of Public Health intend to grant regulatory approval “very soon” for the cell-based chicken sold by the company’s Good Meat subsidiary, Tetrick said. That would make it just the second country to give a green light. Additionally, Eat Just has already been granted an export license, supporting the company’s future growth plans.
“Right from the beginning, we are looking at what the export plan is,” said Lim Meng Hui, CEO of the free zones authority.
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