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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Plant-based egg, meat company ‘Eat Just’ gets cracking with Qatar expansion


Qatari vegans will soon enjoy quality plant-based dishes, as Eat Just seeks to launch a branch in Doha.

San Francisco-based Eat Just Inc revealed plans to build its first commercial facility in Qatar as it seeks to expand into the Middle East and North Africa region.

The plant-based egg brand will start producing cell-based ‘meat’ in Qatar, in partnership with state-backed Doha Venture Capital and the Qatar Free Zones Authority.

The trio will build a large-scale plant, which could take as long as two years to complete and cost over $200 million, according to Eat Just Chief Executive Officer, Josh Tetrick. 

The venture firm is funding a “relevant chunk” of money, Tetrick stated without mentioning the exact amount.

In March, the company announced it had raised $200 million in funding led by Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund.

The leading plant-based meat producer said the funds will be used to help the company accelerate its production to meet the growing demand for meat alternatives and reach more markets.

The Qatari commercial facility will be much bigger than the original one in Singapore, as it aims to build a cultured-meat plant, which is grown from animal cells instead of slaughtering animals.

Cultivated meat is expected to become a $25 billion industry by 2030, according to a recent report from McKinsey & Co. 

The report suggests that “cultivated meat could provide as much as a half of 1 percent—billions of pounds—of the world’s meat supply, with implications for multiple sectors.”

This serves the brand’s goals. In an earlier interview, Tetrick said the aim is “to build facilities that are making a lot of meat.”

Read also: Qatar goes vegan? Plant-based ‘Eat Just’ secures $200 million in Doha-led funding

The company is also planning on expanding its facility activities to produce its Just Egg product, which is made from mung beans.

Eat Just chose Qatar specifically because of the country’s openness to the brand’s concept and its welcoming culture to innovation, in addition to the state’s desire to build long-term strategies for food security, he said. 

The Gulf state will be the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to host Eat Just, which is aiming for future exports to other regions such as western Europe.

QFZ and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health are expected to grant regulatory approval “very soon” for the cell-based chicken sold by the company’s Good Meat subsidiary, Tetrick said. 

The approval will make Qatar the second country in the world to authorise the sale of cell-based chicken after Singapore.

Nevertheless, the brand has already secured an export license to support its expansion plans.

“Right from the beginning, we are looking at what the export plan is,” said Lim Meng Hui, CEO of the Qatar Free Zones Authority.

Established in 2011, Eat Just is America’s “fastest-growing” plant-based egg brand, “JUST Egg”, and the first to market meats made out of animal cells. Its famous vegan eggs are made out of mung beans, providing an alternative to its plant-based food lovers.

The company has a large team of scientists and chefs working towards finding more meat alternatives.

Since its establishment, the food tech company has raised more than $650 million.

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