United States

This Restaurant Will Be the First Ever to Serve Lab-Grown Chicken (for $23)

Credit: Eat Just and 1880

On Saturday, lab-grown chicken made by U.S. start-up Eat Just will make its historic debut at restaurant 1880 in Singapore, after the country's food agency approved the sale of cultured meat.

The lab-grown chicken will be the first cultured meat sold and served at a restaurant, according to a press release from Eat Just.

At 1880, which is known for innovate menus and socially conscious members, according to its website, the GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken will be available in a trio of sample dishes: bao bun with crispy sesame cultured chicken and spring onion; phyllo puff pastry with cultured chicken and black bean puree; and a crispy maple waffle with cultured chicken with spices and hot sauce.

The trio will cost about $23, Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of Eat Just tells CNBC Make It.

1880's bao bun with crispy sesame cultured chicken and a crispy maple waffle with cultured chicken using Eat Just's GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken
Credit: Eat Just and 1880
1880's bao bun with crispy sesame cultured chicken and a crispy maple waffle with cultured chicken using Eat Just's GOOD Meat Cultured Chicken

Tetrick, who founded Eat Just in 2011, says the company started developing cultured chicken using animal cells in 2016. Since 2011, the company has raised $300 million to date and was last valued at $1.2 billion.

To create GOOD Chicken, a small amount of animal cells is taken from poultry. The cells are then fed nutrients like amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins — the same types of nutrients that animals needs to grow and multiply, according to Eat Just. From there, the cells are grown into meat at a rapid rate using a bioreactor. (Tetrick compares the process to brewing beer.)

From start to finish, the process takes about 14 days to create cultured chicken. That's faster than traditional chicken, which takes about 45 days to go from chick to slaughter, according to Tetrick. Eat Just has manufacturing facilities in both northern California and Singapore to produce the product.

While Tetrick would not disclose how much its costs to make GOOD Chicken, he says the company isn't making any money with the current sale price.

"We didn't set it at a cost where we're making money, but we do think we are in a place where we can continue to scale up," he says. Tetrick says Eat Just has been working toward gaining regulatory approval from the U.S. and other countries.

Tetrick adds that it took the Singaporian government more than two years to approve cultured chicken for sale. "They appointed a safety panel. They looked at the quality of the cell line, the process of the manufacturing and the determined that this is safe," he says.

Inside 1800 social club and restaurant in Singapore
Credit: 1880
Inside 1800 social club and restaurant in Singapore

While The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have overseen the regulation of cell-based seafood since 2019, cultured meat, like plant-based meat products, will likely face opposition from traditional meat producers, such as the U.S. Cattlemen's Association, according to a CNBC report.

In addition to regulatory approval, high production costs is one of the biggest barriers lab-grown meat start-ups face.

According to Bloomberg, it costs $400 to $2,000 a kilogram (2.2 pounds) to make cultivated meat. In 2013, Dutch start-up Mosa Meat said it cost $280,000 to make its lab-grown burger, but more recently it has found a way to bring costs down. By 2021, Mosa Meat says it hopes to sell its lab-grown patties at around $10, according to Reuters.

By 2030, the cell-based meat market is projected to reach $140 billion, according to forecast complied by Blue Horizon Corp.

Lab-grown, or "clean meat," start-ups have also attracted the attention of big-time investors. For instance, Berkeley, California-headquartered Memphis Meats counts Bill Gates, Ricard Branson and Tyson Foods Inc. among its investors.

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Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect Memphis Meats is headquartered in Berkeley, California.

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