Eat Just will be selling laboratory-grown chicken in Singapore after the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) receives regulatory approval. The cell-cultured chicken will eventually be manufactured under the new GOOD Meat brand by Eat Just through partnerships with local manufacturers and sold to restaurants before it is available to consumers.
While there are many other companies using various techniques on laboratory-grown meat, Eat Just describes the Singapore government review and regulatory approval as a "world first".
No chickens were killed to preserve the cell line used to make Eat Just's cultured meat, Andrew Noyes, global communications director, told TechCrunch. Instead, the process begins with cell isolation, which is cells obtained by methods that may include a biopsy from a live animal. After the cells are cultured, they are transferred to a bioreactor, fed a proprietary blend of proteins, amino acids, minerals, sugars, salts, and other nutrients, and then harvested after they have reached sufficient density.
The company said it had run 20 production runs of cell-cultured chicken in 1,200-liter bioreactors to prove the consistency of its manufacturing process. Eat Just also said that no antibiotics were used and that the cultured chicken has "extremely low and significantly cleaner microbiological content than conventional chicken".
Noyes said the company is already working with a restaurant to add their chicken with GOOD meat to their menu and hopes to announce a launch date soon.
In today's announcement of Eat Just, CEO Josh Tetrick said, "Singapore has long been a leader in innovation of all kinds from information technology to biologics to the world leaders in building healthier and safer food systems."
The government is currently participating in an initiative called “30 by 30”, which aims to produce 30% of the country's food supply locally by 2030. The initiative was led by the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) and was prompted because Singapore currently imports over 90%, making it vulnerable to export bans or logistical issues highlighted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of “30 times 30”, the SFA and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research have provided research funding of SGD 144 million.
Eat Just, whose other products include a plant-based egg substitute, announced last month that it is partnering with Proterra Investment Partners Asia to create a new Asian subsidiary. The partnership includes a factory in Singapore supported by the government's Economic Development Committee.
There are several factors driving demand for cultured meat and vegetable protein in Asian markets. The first concern concerns the safety of meat from slaughterhouses, which gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also highlighted weaknesses in the production and supply chain that could potentially be avoided with laboratory-made meat and meat alternatives.