Singapore has given the go-ahead to Eat Just, a U.S. startup, to sell its lab-grown chicken meat to consumers, marking the first regulatory approval for the so-called clean meat since it does not come from slaughtered animals.
Demand for alternatives to meat is surging following consumer concerns about animal welfare, health and the environment. Plant-based alternatives have become increasingly popular thanks to traction gained by Beyond Meat Inc and Impossible Foods, with their products increasingly appearing on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus.
Demand for clean meat, also known as cultured meat, is at its nascent stage given its initial high production costs.
“The first-in-the-world regulatory allowance of real, high-quality meat created directly from animal cells for safe human consumption paves the way for a forthcoming small-scale commercial launch in Singapore,” said Eat Just on Wednesday.
Initially, the meat will be sold as nuggets which was previously priced at $50 each. The price has since come down, said co-founder and CEO Josh Tetrick. The price of the meat will be at levels at par with premium chicken when it first launches in a restaurant in Singapore “in the very near term”.
Just Eat is targeting operating profitability before the end of 2021, and hopes to go public soon, said Tetrick.
Globally, more than 24 companies are testing clean-meat including chicken, fish and beef, in efforts aimed at creating a niche market for this segment, which according to Barclays could be worth $140 billion by 2029.