Singapore pushes food innovation limits becoming the first country to approve lab grown meat

SINGAPORE – Singapore, a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia and one of the most progressive countries when it comes to embracing food innovations, has allowed the sale of lab grown meat, becoming the first country in the world to do so.

With the approval given, Eat Just Inc., a maker of meat and egg substitutes, now has the go ahead to sell its laboratory-created chicken to Singaporean consumers.

The product, created from animal cells without the slaughter of any chickens, will debut in Singapore under the GOOD Meat brand as a chicken bite with breading and seasoning in a single restaurant.

Eat Just is initially working with local manufacturer the Food Innovation and Resource Centre to make the cultured chicken.

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Additionally, the company is buying more equipment to expand sales to other restaurants — and eventually grocery stores.

“We want Singapore to be the focus of our manufacturing globally… They’re just really forward thinking in building an enabling environment for this kind of work.”

Josh Tetrick – Eat Just Inc. Chief Executive Officer

“We want Singapore to be the focus of our manufacturing globally,” Chief Executive Officer Josh Tetrick said in an interview. “They’re just really forward thinking in building an enabling environment for this kind of work.”

Progessive approach towards novel foods

As noted above, Singapore is one of the most progressive country when it comes to embracing food innovations of the future.

The densely populated nation, which relies mostly on other countries for food, has deepened its focus on getting enough to eat for its 5.7 million people as the Covid-19 crisis exposes fragility in supply chains worldwide.

This desperate need for enough food is perhaps why the country usually expresses no reservations when it comes to approving novel food products once they have been rendered safe for human consumption.

The country is currently moving with speed to allow the sale of alternative proteins like cultured meat, a move that fits into its broader food-security agenda.

This year, plant-based meat maker Impossible Foods Inc. entered the retail market in Singapore and Hong Kong with its product being sold in grocery stores.

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The city-state is trying to produce 30% of its own food by 2030, up from less than 10% today, and has recently accelerated funding for local farms.

A humane and sustainable animal protein

While cultured meat is real meat, and not a plant-based substitute, it can be marketed as more humane and environmentally sustainable.

This will probably give it competitive advantage over other novel animal protein alternatives, as it is meat in all sense and purpose, just one that is created in a unconventional way.

The new chicken product will be priced similar to premium chicken for the first six months, Tetrick said, adding that the cost will come down over time as the company builds global scale.

“Eventually we want to get to the place where it is significantly more cost effective than conventional production.”

That could take a while, since chicken is one of the most inexpensive proteins.

In the U.S., it’s also the most popular — with consumption being higher than that of any other meat.

Grocery stores regularly sell $5 whole rotisserie chickens, and some restaurants offer $1 chicken sandwiches.

Its initial cost should however, not be that much of a worry as a recently concluded consumer survey revealed that consumers, especially the millennials were willing to spend more on food that was environmentally sustainable.

In Singapore, cultured burgers may be next. Eat Just is planning to submit its application for lab-created beef there during the first half of next year.

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