UPDATE: Sept. 20, 2021: Eat Just's Good Meat division received an additional $97 million in funding, bringing the total of this funding round to $267 million. With the new funds, this is said to be the largest funding round to date for a company in the cell-based meat space. New and previously announced funders in this round include UBS O’Connor, Graphene Ventures, K3 Ventures, Resilience Reserve and businessman Fernando Chico Pardo.
The company also made two high-profile additions to its governing bodies. Former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman has been named to Good Meat's advisory board. Jim Borel, former executive vice president of DuPont, is joining Good Meat's board of directors.
- Good Meat, the Eat Just division that made the world's first cell-based meat for consumers in Singapore, received $170 million in new funding. With these funds, Good Meat is now a subsidiary of Eat Just.
- The new investment comes from funds managed by entities including UBS O'Connor, Graphene Ventures and K3 Ventures. It will be used to increase capacity and accelerate R&D for cultured meat.
- In 2020, cell-based meat companies received more than $360 million in funding, according to the Good Food Institute. Eat Just and other players in the space have said they expect to be able to enter the U.S. market later this year.
Ever since Good Meat's first cell-based chicken was served to diners at Singapore's 1880 restaurant in December, the company has been expanding its offerings. The cell-based chicken has been a popular menu item there, and some of its cultured-based chicken dishes became available for home delivery on the foodpanda app last month.
The company is showing tangible — and edible — progress in a sector that has been known until the last six months as a concept being perfected in R&D and not available to consumers. So it makes sense that investors are willing to put their funds toward seeing the company expand its offerings. And while developments progress in Singapore, many investors and industry watchers are keeping their eye on San Francisco-based Eat Just's efforts to get its cultured meat on plates in its home country of the United States.
This new investment brings the total money Eat Just and its subsidiaries has received in 2021 alone to $370 million. In March, the company received $200 million, which it planned to use to build capacity, accelerate R&D and grow brands in international markets. Eat Just also makes mung bean-based egg substitute Just Egg, which is sold at retailers and in foodservice locations worldwide. This investment in Eat Just's Good Meat surpasses last year's largest fundraising haul in the cell-based meat space: $161 million to the former Memphis Meats, now known as Upside Foods, to build a pilot plant.
Eat Just has spent the past several months expanding its team, technology and manufacturing infrastructure in Singapore and preparing for entry in the U.S. market, according to the company. It's ready to quickly scale in both North America and Asia through investments in facilities in the U.S. and Singapore, and is evaluating collaboration and acquisition opportunities. At a virtual forum about cell-based meat last month, Eat Just CEO Josh Tetrick said the company was closely working with U.S. regulators and it is ready for when a regulatory system allows cell-based meat to be sold to consumers.
Consumers say they are ready to try cell-based meat. A study commissioned by Eat Just earlier this year found seven in 10 U.S. consumers would be willing to eat cultured chicken instead of that from slaughtered animal. Israel-based Aleph Farms did a similar study, finding that 80% of U.S. and U.K. consumers would want to try it as well.
The JW Marriott Singapore South Beach is going to put these studies to the test, Eat Just announced at the same time as this investment. The hotel's Madame Fan restaurant will start replacing its traditional meat with Good Meat cultured chicken for all of its delivery orders on Thursdays starting this week, and will soon make a weekly replacement in the restaurant's dining room.
It remains to be seen what consumers think of the swap — and if Singapore's consumers will view cultured meat differently than those in the United States — but Eat Just appears to be moving forward. These funds will help secure this scale up in Singapore, which could provide valuable knowledge and expertise for when the company can serve the much larger U.S. market.
Tetrick has long talked about taking Eat Just public when the company turns a profit — something he projected happening this year in an interview with Reuters. This funding could help prepare the infrastructure for the product line that moves the needle more into the black.