San Francisco-based food tech startup Eat Just announced on Tuesday that it had partnered with a consortium led by Proterra Investment Partners Asia to build and operate the first plant-based protein production facility in Singapore.
“We expect to break ground before the end of Q1 2021. In addition to key markets throughout Asia, Eat Just is anticipating our first launches in Europe in 2021,” Andrew Noyes, Eat Just’s head of global communications, told KrASIA.
The consortium will invest up to USD 100 million while Eat Just will invest a maximum of USD 20 million for the plant. Once built, the factory will manufacture “thousands of metric tons of protein”, adding to its existing large-scale protein facilities in North America and Germany, according to its announcement.
“It is increasingly important for us to invest in novel sustainable agri-food technologies, such as alternative proteins, to meet the world’s future needs for food and nutrition,” said Damian Chan, executive vice president of the Singapore Economic Development Board.
He added, “The partnership between Eat Just and Proterra is an important addition to Singapore’s agri-food ecosystem and will build new innovation and production capabilities within the sector here. This will allow us to better cater to the needs of the Asian markets, while creating exciting opportunities for Singapore.”
Founded in 2011, the San Francisco-based Eat Just is best known for its liquid egg product, JUST Egg, that is made from turmeric and protein-rich mung beans. Currently, existing distribution partners in Asia include South Korea’s SPC Samlip and Thailand’s Betagro, and a partnership in mainland China that has yet to be announced, according to the firm.
“This partnership will further accelerate our path to become one of the world’s largest producers of eggs in the next decade. Proterra’s experience across sourcing and manufacturing will be invaluable. Consumer demand, driven by health, food security and food safety, is creating an environment of extraordinary opportunity for this unique partnership,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just.
The statement added that Eat Just and Proterra Asia are in talks to expand to cell-based meats.
Capturing the lucrative China market
The news came after a handful of other US-based food tech firms have already sprung up to fill the rising demand for plant-based food in Asia such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. They both seek to expand their reach in Asia as well as the lucrative China market.
Beyond Meat announced last month that it will build production facilities in China, making it the first foreign company to manufacture plant-based meat products in the country, according to a statement. The factory will be located in the Jiaxing Economic and Technological Development Zone, which will manufacture plant-based chicken, beef, and pork.
Its rival, Impossible Foods, made forays into the Asian market by rolling out their plant-based products in retail stores in Hong Kong and Singapore on Tuesday. Pat Brown, chief executive at Impossible Food, also told Reuters that they hope to “build a complete plant-based supply chain” in China, but the firm added that they are still awaiting approval from Chinese regulators.
“JUST Egg sales have grown substantially in China in 2020, up more than 40% on TMall and JD.com in recent months. The popularity of plant-based foods and demand for clean, sustainable protein are increasing in China and across Asia. China alone produces about 435 billion eggs per year and presents a massive opportunity for JUST Egg,” said Noyes.