First-ever cultivated meat facility planned for MENA region as Eat Just collaboration takes off – FoodIngredientsFirst

01 Sep 2021 — Eat Just, Inc. is joining forces with Doha Venture Capital (DVC) and Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to build the first-ever cultivated meat facility in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region. Regulatory approval for cultivated meat is anticipated, with forecasts that it will be greenlighted very soon. 

The collaboration is expected to lead to cultured meat being served in Qatar restaurants.

The regional hub will be located in the Umm Alhoul Free Zone, one of two free zones overseen and regulated by QFZA, with direct access to Hamad Port, Qatar’s main seaport.

The hub will initially comprise a large-scale Eat Just’s GOOD Meat division facility – the operation behind the first-to-market meat made from animal cells instead of slaughtered livestock. 

There are also plans to add a protein processing facility for JUST Egg, the company’s plant-based egg division. 

The GOOD Meat team is identifying restaurant partners in what is being slated as a “historic moment in the Middle East.”

Cell-based meat in restaurants
This is DVC’s first investment in the protein innovation space, and the forthcoming meat facility will be a first for QFZA.

The QFZA and the Ministry of Public Health have indicated plans to grant regulatory approval for GOOD Meat cultivated chicken soon and formally granted an export license for the pioneering product. 

The GOOD Meat team is currently identifying restaurants in Qatar that would be ideal launch partners for what is being slated as a “historic moment in the Middle East.”

“Our team is grateful to take the next step in our global expansion in the Qatar Free Zones. Their commitment to accelerating our work in building a more sustainable food system was apparent from day one of our dialogue – and we’re expecting to look back decades from now on this partnership with them as key to how we made that vision a reality,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.

“Eat Just is a highly innovative company with a bright future, and we’re pleased to be one of the investors in the company and welcome them to Qatar Free Zones. This partnership is a prime example of our commitment to supporting high-growth disruptors as they develop technologies,” says DVC CEO Mohammed Al Abdulla.

QFZA’s food and agri-tech sectors continue to grow rapidly, supported by the region’s cold chain storage capabilities, airports and ports.

Eat Just’s attention to the Middle East comes as the company seeks to bring its award-winning JUST Egg products to retailers, restaurants and other global foodservice destinations. 

Alt-egg growth
JUST Egg is the fastest growing egg brand in the US and the company has sold the plant-based equivalent of 160 million eggs to date. In the first half of 2021, the company celebrated record-breaking grocery sales. 

The plans for the MENA hub follow Eat Just’s commercialization of GOOD Meat in Singapore and its commitment to build a large-scale protein facility in Singapore.

Since securing the first-in-the-world regulatory approval for cultivated meat and making it available on restaurant menus and via home delivery in Singapore, top industry executives, world-renowned scientists and academics have lauded GOOD Meat’s milestones as the beginning of a transformative new phase for the global food system. 

The company welcomes Qatar as a partner in this fast-moving and critically important sector as the country continues its rapid transition from depending on food imports to achieving self-sufficiency across many food sectors while strengthening its position as a key global hub for technological innovation.

Edited by Gaynor Selby

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