QATAR – Alternative protein company Eat Just is set to build a cell-cultured meat facility in Qatar which will be the first-ever facility of its kind in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region.
To make the project a success, Eat Just, Inc. has signed a collaborative agreement with Doha Venture Capital (DVC) and the Qatar Free Zones Authority (QFZA).
Thanks to the collaboration, the facility will be located in the Umm Alhoul Free Zone, one of two free zones overseen and regulated by QFZA, with direct access to Hamad Port, Qatar’s main seaport.
The new facility is expected to be significantly larger than the one Eat Just uses to produce in Singapore, which recently became the first country to approve the sale of cell-based chicken.
The effort could cost more than $200 million, with a “relevant chunk” of that coming from an investment by the venture firm, Eat Just Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick said without disclosing the exact amount.
The hub will initially comprise a large-scale Eat Just’s GOOD Meat division facility but plans exist to add a protein processing facility for JUST Egg, the company’s plant-based egg division.
Regulatory approval for cultivated meat is anticipated, with forecasts that it will be greenlighted very soon.
This will pave way for commercialization of the product allowing it to be served in Qatar restaurants.
The GOOD Meat team says it is currently identifying restaurants in Qatar that would be ideal launch partners for what is being slated as a “historic moment in the Middle East.”
Product launch isn’t very far from the horizon as the QFZA and the Ministry of Public Health have indicated plans to grant regulatory approval for GOOD Meat cultivated chicken soon.
The authorities are also said to be speeding up efforts to ensure export license for the pioneering product are formally granted.
Eat Just’s attention to the Middle East comes as the company seeks to bring its award-winning JUST Egg products to retailers, restaurants and other global foodservice destinations.
The plans for the MENA hub follow Eat Just’s commercialization of GOOD Meat in Singapore and its commitment to build a large-scale protein facility in Singapore.
The company chose Qatar in part because of its openness to cultured meat and desire to find innovative, long-term solutions to food security, Tetrick said.
It also gives Eat Just a foothold in the Middle East and North Africa region, potentially allowing for future exports to areas such as western Europe.
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