Eat Just, maker of both plant-based eggs and cultured meat, announced a major expansion today that brings its popular JUST Egg product into foodservice formats across Canada. According to a press release sent to The Spoon, that includes distribution at restaurants, hotels, universities, and government and corporate cafeterias.
Foodservice businesses in Canada can now order the JUST Egg — a frozen folded “egg” made from mung bean — through their distributors and sell the product on their menus. The move into foodservice follows Eat Just’s retail debut in Canada, which happened earlier this month. The launch also includes a partnership with Copper Branch, one of the largest plant-based restaurant chains in the world.
Today’s news is also the latest in a string of moves Eat Just has made in the last few months specifically around restaurant distribution. Since January, the San Francisco-based company launched the JUST Egg product at Peet’s and Starbucks in the U.S., and struck a deal with Discos in China to outright replace traditional egg offerings with Eat Just’s plant-based items.
These partnerships are part of a larger trend happening in the restaurant biz right now as more brands expand the number of fully plant-based meals they offer in response to an uptick in demand from consumers. The ubiquitous breakfast sandwich — sausage, egg, and cheese — is a good example. Previously, only one component (usually the sausage) of that offering was plant-based. Now, restaurants like Starbucks and Peet’s are vegan-izing the whole sandwich, which means other QSRs and fast-casual chains will follow soon. It’s a similar pattern to the original rise of plant-based protein in QSRs that happened a couple of years ago.
However, Eat Just is also developing cultured meat products through its GOOD Meat line, and so clearly has bigger ambitions for the restaurant industry than simply selling its plant-based egg products. At the end of 2020, the company became the first in the world to be granted regulatory approval to sell cultured meat. Actual sale of GOOD chicken bites followed shortly after, at a restaurant in Singapore.
Restaurants will be a major part of cultured meat’s expansion from lab prototype to mainstream staple — a point Eat Just’s CEO Josh Tetrick confirmed to me at a talk last year. So while this rapid expansion into restaurants around the world is good for the company’s plant-based wares, it’s vital for the expansion of its GOOD line.
That expansion won’t happen immediately, of course. Like any other company making cultured meat, Eat Just will have to gain regulatory approval for every single market it plans to enter with its GOOD products, and it is unclear how long that process will take. However, once said regulatory approval is granted, existing partnerships with major foodservice businesses could give the company a big head start when it comes to cultured meat.