The US sustainable food start-up Eat Just has struck a deal to build massive bioreactors with the goal of producing tens of millions of pounds of lab-grown meat a year.
Founded in 2011, Eat Just specializes in egg alternatives and meat grown from animal cell cultures.
The company’s subsidiary GOOD Meat announced Wednesday it had signed an agreement with equipment manufacturer ABEC Inc, which typically works with the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, to develop 250,000-liter (66,000 gallons) bioreactors to grow the cultures.
Eat Just said in a statement it plans to install 10 of the bioreactors in the United States and hopes to begin production in 2025, with the goal of generating 30 million pounds of chicken and beef annually.
Several other start-ups are working on lab-grown meat, which promises to produce animal protein with less environmental impact than intensive farming and without causing animal suffering.
The San Francisco-based Eat Just is the first company in the world to receive regulatory approval to market its cultured meat, after getting the green light from Singapore at the end of 2020.
This was a crucial step in the effort to ramp up output, co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick told AFP.
Current production is still minimal — less than 10,000 pounds a year in Singapore — and very expensive.
In order to sell large amounts of cultured meat at affordable costs, Eat Just needs to significantly increase its production capacity, Tetrick said.
In the meantime, the group plans to install smaller bioreactors — of 3,500- and 6,000-liters — in California and Singapore over the coming year. Each will be able to produce tens of thousands of pounds of meat a year.
Once given the green light by US regulators, GOOD Meat will be ready to begin sales there within 30 days, Tetrick said.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still needs to approve the manufacturing process, while the Department of Agriculture (USDA) needs to determine how countries should label the product.
Eat Just did not specify how much the ABEC deal was worth, saying only that the start-up’s total investment amounted to several hundred million dollars. — Agence France-Presse
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