Eggless Egg-Maker Eat Just Prepping for Europe Next Year
(Bloomberg) -- Eat Just Inc. is ready to sell plant-based eggs in western Europe: it’s got a manufacturer, a distributor and a delivery service lined up. All it needs now is government approval to put that supply chain into action.
The San Francisco-based startup is awaiting safety approvals from the European Union for using mung bean protein, the ingredient that makes its liquid food scramble when cooked. Then it can start selling in countries such as Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick said in an interview.
“We’re in conversations with major retailers, large quick-service restaurants, large hotel operators in most countries in western Europe,” Tetrick said. The final regulatory approval should come in time for Eat Just to start its European business next year, he said.
Sales of meat and dairy alternatives in the EU and U.K. are expected to grow by about 10% a year during the next five years as environmental, health and animal-welfare concerns prompt Europeans to cut back on beef or pork. That’s attracting companies such as Beyond Meat Inc., based in El Segundo, California, though some products may face relatively strict regulations and lengthy approval processes.
Part of what attracts Eat Just to western Europe is the willingness of the population to consume more plant-based proteins.
“You find even more openness in western Europe than you would find in the U.S.,” Tetrick said.
Impossible Foods Inc. also awaits market approval after filing an application last year to market a burger containing soy leghemoglobin, an iron-containing molecule made with a genetically engineered yeast. The Redwood City, California-based company uses the ingredient to make its vegetarian burgers juicier so they mimic ground beef when cooked.
Entering Europe would help Eat Just expand beyond current markets in the U.S., Hong Kong and mainland China. It’s set to start building a plant-protein factory in Singapore that will open by mid-2022, Tetrick said.
Eat Just is working toward achieving operating profitability and once it gets there, it will then consider options for going public. The target for reaching the milestone is by the end of 2021, Tetrick said. It wants to bring down the cost of an egg below 5 cents by the end of 2023, which would be significantly below the cost of the cheapest egg globally, he said.
The company completed a deal with German potato starch producer Emsland Group to manufacture protein from mung beans and handle processing byproducts. German poultry producer PHW Group will distribute the egg across the region’s restaurants and retailers. The company also has a partnership with Berlin-based food-ordering service Delivery Hero SE.
“The best way to change traditional agriculture is to partner with traditional agriculture, not to stand outside of it,” Tetrick said. “Companies are really skilled at figuring out how to move those animal proteins into the homes of human beings. Let’s plug something that we think is a little bit better into their systems.”
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