San Francisco-based startup Eat Just has announced its collaboration with Qatar state-backed firms Doha Venture Capital (DVC) and Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to build what it claims is the first cell-cultured meat facility in the MENA (Middle East and Northern Africa) region.
The project could reportedly cost upwards of $200m and take around two years to complete, with the final facility to be far larger than the US company’s Singapore base. The move comes as part of Eat Just’s plan to expand, bringing its vegan eggs and cultured chicken into new markets. The new regional hub will be built in the Umm Alhoul Free Zone, an area overseen and regulated by QFZA that has direct access to Hamad Port.
“Our free zones are characterized by innovation, technology, accelerated growth and environmental awareness, and Eat Just is a natural partner across all four of these areas,” said Lim Meng Hui, CEO of QFZA in a statement. “Our food, agritech and biomedical sectors continue to grow rapidly, supported by the world-leading cold chain storage capabilities of our airport and port, and we look forward to working with Eat Just as they establish and scale in the region and worldwide.”
Qatar has also said it intends to grant regulatory approval for cell-cultured chicken ‘very soon’ – following the likes of Singapore and Israel – and have formally granted an export license for the product.
JUST Egg is the fastest growing egg brand in the US, selling the equivalent of 160 million eggs to date. The plant-based alternative, made of mung beans, uses 98% less water, 86% less land and has a 93% smaller carbon footprint than conventional animal sources. The group’s meat is made from animal cells and is so far, the only cultured meat in the world that has gotten the regulatory green light to be sold commercially, with Singapore approving it in December 2020.