Eat Just announced today that it has partnered with Doha Venture Capital (DVC) and Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to build a cultured meat facility in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region.
The new facility will be located in the Umm Alhoul Free Zone in Qatar, and will at first house Eat Just’s cultured meat division, GOOD Meat. Eventually, the facility will accommodate Eat Just’s plant-based egg brand JUST Egg as well. In addition to those brands, the facility will also conduct research and development, engineering, and business development.
According to the press announcement, the Qatar Free Zones Authority and Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health have indicated that they will grant regulatory approval for GOOD Meat’s cultured chicken “very soon” and have formally granted an expert license for the cell-based meat. If Qatar does come through with this approval, it would be the second region in the world to approve the sale of cultured meat, following Singapore’s decision to do so in December of last year.
Gaining regulatory approval in more countries around the world is obviously a key milestone that needs to be reached in order for cultured meat to gain any sort of traction. Cell-based meat startups around the world have raised a ton of money over the past year, and the technology is rapidly maturing. But all the funding and the best technology in the world doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t allowed to sell your product.
While there are skeptics that doubt cell-based meat will ever be able to economically scale, a number of startups have made moves that aim to bring it to market. After two drastic price reductions this year, the production price of Israel-based Future Meat’s cell-based chicken is now $4 for 110g (check out our recent podcast interview with Future Meat Founder and CSO Yaakov Nahmias for more). Here in the U.S. Memphis Meats re-branded to the more consumer-friendly UPSIDE Foods and announced a partnership with the Altier Crenn restaurant in San Francisco.
Eat Just has definitely pushed its way to the front of the cultured meat pack, however. It is the first company to ever commercially sell its cultured meat, and now it will have large-scale production facilities in both Singapore and Qatar.