Singapore has granted egg substitute maker Eat Just approval to sell lab-grown meat to the public, as the first country worldwide. The approval, which has been hailed as a landmark development in the cultured meat market, comes shortly after the San Francisco-based food tech startup announced plans to build its first Asia factory in Singapore in October.
Eat Just’s head of global communications Andrew Noyes told KrASIA that the company considers the city-state to be “an ideal place” for the launch of cultured-meat businesses. “Singapore has been supportive of research and development for alternative proteins and their regulatory environment is supportive of food innovation and alternative protein sources,” he said.
Unlike plant-based meat alternatives, cell-based meat is produced in laboratories using animal cells, avoiding the slaughtering of animals. While plant-based meat has already gained popularity in recent years, greatly thanks to US-based food tech startups like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, cell-based meat is still an emerging industry.
Noyes pointed out that Asia’s expanding population, rising incomes, and urbanization are contributing to an increase in meat consumption. “At current rates, demand for animal protein will surpass the conventional meat industry’s capacity to produce it,” he said. “Cultured meat production can be part of the solution.”
A handful of Singapore-based food tech firms are already exploring the field, Shiok Meats and TurtleTree Labs among them. However, many of the startups are still either at the research stage or awaiting regulatory approval.
The cultured chicken is said to be sold in the form of chicken nuggets and will be available in an undisclosed restaurant in Singapore soon, according to Eat Just.
(The first paragraph has been updated from an earlier version. The Singapore production facility announced in October is tied to meeting the demand of the plant-based product JUST Egg, not cultured chicken.)