Eat Just gets $200M investment

Source: fooddive.com

Dive Brief:

  • Eat Just raised $200 million in a funding round led by the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), which is the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar. Other new investors include Charlesbank Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital, which is the investment arm of the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.
  • With this new investment round, representatives from the QIA and Charlesbank will join Eat Just’s board. The funds will help the company build capacity for its products, accelerate R&D programs and grow its brands in international markets. According to Eat Just, the company has raised more than $650 million to date.
  • Eat Just has been one of the more active companies in the animal alternatives segment in the last year, selling its mung-bean-based Just Egg in several companies, both in retail and foodservice locations, as well as receiving the world’s first regulatory approval to sell cell-based chicken in Singapore. 

Dive Insight:

Eat Just is only company right now making animal alternative products in two diverse formats — both plant-based and cell-based — and this funding is likely to advance both.

On the plant-based side, the company has made big strides to scale and extend its Just Egg products. In December 2019, it bought its own manufacturing facility in Minnesota. According to Nielsen statistics provided by Eat Just, Just Egg has a penetration of 1 million U.S. households. The company says it’s sold the equivalent of 100 million eggs worldwide and owns 99.2% of the plant-based egg category.  Eat Just also reduced the consumer cost of its pourable Just Egg by nearly 50%, and has launched in both precooked folded and sous vide bite formats. 

Eat Just has worked to bring Just Egg to consumers beyond the U.S. as well. The company currently has several international manufacturing and marketing agreements. Its first partnership in this vein was with Italy’s Eurovo in July 2018, and then with German poultry player PHW Group in early 2019. Last March, the company announced new partnerships to bring Just Egg to Asia, Latin America and Europe. And Just Egg launched in grocery stores in China in 2019. Earlier this month, it launched in Canada, and the company says it will be in 1,000 stores there by Easter.

Just Egg is also getting on more restaurant menus worldwide. In the United States, the company will see a massive expansion at foodservice outlets and restaurants through a partnership with Michael Foods, a division of Post Holdings that is one of the nation’s leading providers of egg products to foodservice. It’s available at many U.S. restaurants — including chains like Peet’s Coffee and Saxby’s — as well as large restaurants in other countries like China and Canada

On the cell-based meat side of Eat Just’s business, the company is just getting started with actual products. While Eat Just’s cell-based chicken bites have only been available for sale in Singapore since late last year, CEO Josh Tetrick told Food Dive in an interview the company is working with governments in the U.S. and a third location to receive regulatory approval. While there is no published regulatory approval process for cell-based meat in the United States yet, companies in the space seem confident that it could become finalized as soon as this year — and several have been working with regulators so that they could quickly have products on the market.

Funding for cell-based meat companies skyrocketed in 2020. More than $360 million was invested in the segment last year — 72% of all of the funding cell-based meat as a whole has ever received, according to the Good Food Institute. Several of these funding rounds went toward building pilot plants to produce large amounts of meat, as companies prepare to enter the market.

It’s not clear if Eat Just will be using these funds in a similar fashion, but the company said in a statement that in coming years, it will dramatically reduce cultured meat production costs, scale commercial manufacturing operations and advance its work on other types of cell-based meat. Eat Just has a partnership with Japanese beef producer Toriyama to create cell-based wagyu beef, a sought-after and exclusive steak. 

While Eat Just is a private company and does not report its earnings, it’s clear that previous funding rounds and partnerships have done quite a lot to boost sales and exposure. It could be on the path to more profits with cell-based meat; Eat Just projected it could become a $13 billion market by 2030. This new funding, coupled with other business moves the company is making, could move it forward. Last year, Tetrick told Reuters the company was on track to make a profit in 2021, and may then consider an IPO.

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