- Plant-based egg maker and cell-based meat developer Eat Just is on track to post a profit next year, and will then consider an initial public offering, CEO Josh Tetrick told Reuters.
- Tetrick, who has long been considering an IPO, told the news service that he'd initially thought the pandemic would lengthen the timeline until Just goes public. But consumers spending more time at home and buying more grocery store products actually sped it up, he said. "It makes it more likely we’ll go public sooner," he told Reuters.
- Increased grocery store sales are one way Just is moving toward profitability — both through its products by themselves as well as deals with consumer companies, retailers and chicken egg suppliers, the report said. The company is also looking to lower its costs by trying to extract more protein from the mung beans used to make Just Egg, as well as negotiating more quantity discounts from its suppliers in East Africa and Asia.
Tetrick spoke with Food Dive about going public in 2017 — when the company operated under former name Hampton Creek, before Just Egg was on grocery shelves, and soon after it announced its initiative to develop cell-based meat. At the time, he said he was looking for an IPO in the next three to four years, so he's right on target.
"I... don't have an obsession about going public," he said then. "I have an obsession with us really achieving a mission. I just think going public will be an important part of doing that based upon our growth, our financials."
The growth and financials have been good for the company, which currently is concentrating its sales efforts into its liquid and folded mung bean-based egg products. According to statistics from Just, the company expects to reach the milestone of selling the plant-based equivalent of 50 million eggs this month, and owns 99.2% of the plant-based egg category.
The liquid version of Just Egg, which is sold in 12,369 stores, is in the top 10 egg SKUs at one of the nation's top five retailers. The company says the folded version of Just Egg, which debuted in grocery stores this spring, is already the top-selling frozen breakfast item in the natural channel as a whole and at one of the nation's top five grocery retailers.
Just Egg also has significant sales outside of grocery stores. It's on the menu at Bareburger and soon will begin a massive expansion at foodservice outlets and restaurants through a partnership with Michael Foods, a division of Post Holdings that is one of the nation's leading providers of egg products to foodservice.
Beyond sales, Just has a strong manufacturing and distribution network. In the U.S., Just has its own manufacturing facility in Minnesota, with room for expansion. The company also has manufacturing and distribution agreements with players in the egg space in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
While Just is primarily associating itself with replacing eggs right now, it's not all that the company does. Just is also in the cell-based meat space, and the company has told Food Dive it is prepared to sell a limited amount cell-based chicken nuggets at exclusive restaurants as soon as a country can grant regulatory approval for the product. In addition to chicken, Just has an agreement with Japanese beef producer Toriyama to create cell-based wagyu beef, a sought-after and exclusive steak. While these products are likely years from being widely available to consumers, Just is in position to become one of the major players when they become available.
History has shown that companies don't have to be profitable in order to do well with an IPO. Beyond Meat, which is the only public company that solely makes alternatives to animal-based food, had no problem attracting investors when it had its IPO last year — even though it noted in a filing that it "may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability." The company, which initially offered its stocks at $25 a share, found its shares worth as much as $138.95 in its first months of trading. After the IPO, Beyond Meat quickly made its way into the black.
Tetrick has said Just's mission is to fix the food system by producing healthy and inexpensive food that tastes good and is good for the planet. From detailed sustainability reports to a business venture to make affordable food in Liberia, Just has already been making its case to market to investors for years.
Correction: A previous version of this story mentioned a restaurant that does not currently serve Just Egg. Tim Hortons tested the product in 2019.