Eat Just Inc. is set to build a cultured meat plant in Qatar.
The San Franciscan startup is partnering with the state-backed Doha Venture Capital (DVC) and the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA) to construct the new facility.
According to Eat Just, best known for its vegan egg products, Qatar could be the second-ever country to approve the sale of its cutting-edge cultured chicken brand GOOD Meat.
The plant will be the first cultured meat producing facility in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region, and also marks DVC’s first investment in the alternative protein space. The sprawling project could cost more than $200 million and take over two years to complete.
“The MENA region, led by Qatar, is seeing how leading in food innovation is good for the health of its citizens and the planet we all share. We are deeply grateful to partner with them,” says Eat Just founder and CEO Josh Tetrick.
“Eat Just is a highly innovative company with a bright future,” adds DVC CEO Mohammed Al Abdulla. “This partnership is a prime example of our commitment to supporting high-growth disruptors as they develop technologies that will change the world.”
Cultured meat comes to Qatar
The QFZA and the Ministry of Public Health indicate that they intend to grant regulatory approval for GOOD Meat in the near future and have already granted an export license for its cultured chicken product, indicating even more planned future growth.
The new factory will be located in Umm Alhoul Free Zone, and there are also plans to add a plant protein processing facility for the production of Just Egg products. In addition, the GOOD Meat team is currently working to identify potential restaurant partners in and around Qatar.
“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,” says Lim Meng Hui, CEO of QFZA. “We look forward to working with Eat Just as they establish and scale in the region and worldwide.”
The future of protein
Cultured meat (also known as clean, cell-based, or lab-grown) is authentic in every sense of the word but produced in a lab setting—such as the new facility in Qatar—rather than on a farm. It’s slaughter-free, though it still requires animal muscle cells to begin the production process.
Singapore became the first country in the world to approve its sale in 2020, and since then Eat Just’s cultured chicken has launched to restaurants and for home delivery. The company is also currently in talks with American regulators about approval for the U.S. market.
Large existing companies such as Nestlé are also moving into the cultured meat space, while venture capitalists predict continued growth for alternative proteins in general. According to Markets and Markets, the cell-based meat industry could be worth $20 million by 2027.
Want to learn more about cultured meat? Read on here.