José Andrés joins board for Eat Just’s cell-based meat


Dive Brief:

  • Celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés is joining the board of directors for Eat Just’s cell-based Good Meat division. He’s also pledged to serve Good Meat cultured chicken at one of his U.S. restaurants once it receives regulatory approval to be sold here.
  • Andrés will connect small-scale animal farmers to Eat Just, which can use those animals’ cells to grow its meat products. He also will provide culinary counsel to the company, helping them improve the products’ taste, texture and versatility.
  • Andrés is the second notable chef to get involved with a U.S.-based cultured meat company. Upside Foods announced a partnership in August with Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn, who has pledged to serve that company’s cultured chicken at her Atelier Crenn restaurant once it is approved for sale.

Dive Insight:

As cell-based meat companies move closer to being able to get their products on consumers’ plates, it is important to have the right people advocating for them. Meat made from cells may sound like a meal out of a weird science fiction novel to the average consumer. But served on a plate at one of Andrés’s restaurants, however, it becomes something desired and delicious.

But Andrés — who has one two-star Michelin restaurant and four with the Bib Gourmand ranking among the 30 establishments under his ThinkFoodGroup — is not just known for his culinary expertise. He’s also just as well known for his humanitarian efforts. In 2010, he established World Central Kitchen, which brings both food and culinary training to areas in acute need. He’s often personally working with people who need help, and has traveled to disaster zones following volcano eruptions, earthquakes and other natural disasters, including last week’s tornadoes in Kentucky.

In the written statement announcing his association with Eat Just, Andrés said the world’s future depends on how people are eating today. 

“We need to innovate to adapt our food to a planet in crisis,” Andrés said. “We need to create meals that feed the people at the same time as we sustain our communities and environment.”

With his credentials as both a fine chef and someone who cares about people and the planet, Andrés is an ideal person to carry the torch for the cultured meat space. While data has shown that cell-based meat could be much better for the environment than traditionally farmed meat, it’s helpful for consumers to see someone they recognize and trust saying it.

Potential U.S. consumer acceptance of cell-based meat is also unclear, though preliminary indicators are positive. In a survey of U.S. consumers done earlier this year by a management consulting firm on behalf of Eat Just, 72% said they would consider purchasing cell-based meat after seeing pictures of products and reading a description of how they were made. Nearly seven in 10 said they would be willing to substitute cell-based chicken for what comes from animals.

Eat Just is the world’s only company that can sell cultivated meat products, having received the green light to serve cultured chicken bites in Singapore a year ago. Today, Eat Just announced it has received regulatory approval for new forms of its cultured chicken in the Asian island nation, including a chicken breast cutlet that will be served for the first time next week. The company said it also is working to sell cultivated chicken in Singapore’s well-known hawker centers next year.

While developments in Singapore don’t necessarily translate to advancements in the United States — where the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration are still working together to create a regulatory framework for cell-based meat companies — they do work hand-in-hand. The Singapore market can be a proving ground for the form, function and taste of the new chicken products, and can provide more data to be touted by Andrés and others about the possibilities of this new way to make meat.

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