Lab-Grown Chicken Could Be Hitting Shelves Sooner Than You Think

Eat Just, Inc. is often mistakenly thought of as a vegan company by many consumers, thanks to its JUST Egg, which has become a go-to product for many looking for a plant-based option to make scrambled eggs, quiches, and other popular egg-based dishes. Sprinkle a little Kala Malak — aka black salt — on them, and few people can tell the difference from chicken-laid eggs. The product has become so popular that even "Iron Chef's" Ming Tsai has collaborated with JUST Egg for one of his plant-based breakfast items.

Many fans of the company's grocery items have no idea that Eat Just, Inc., has a vision that extends well beyond plant-based eggs. It is now closer than ever to bringing GOOD Meat, grown in laboratories from animal cells, to consumers in grocery stores and restaurants. Eat Just, Inc., along with Upside Foods, which has been working on creating cell-cultivated products since 2015, received approval this month for cell-grown chicken to be labeled as "cell-cultivated chicken" by the USDA.

"Good Meat received approval of our label on June 8 and we began working toward that and the formal grant of inspection (GOI) prior to the FDA's 'no questions' letter," Eat Just's Vice President Andrew Noyes told VegNews. Once the companies receive a Grant of Inspection (GOI) from the USDA, it shouldn't be long before we start seeing cell-grown chicken sold in the United States. 

Some think cell-cultivated products are the future of food

Eat Just founder and CEO Josh Tetrick told The Venture podcast that the company was created after a conversation with cofounder and friend Josh Balk led to many questions about the planet's future. "What would the world look like if we could find a plant that made a better egg? What would the world look like if we made real meat without the need for a single animal to be slaughtered or tree to be removed?" Tetrick said. 

GOOD Meat's cell-based chicken was first approved in Singapore in 2020 and has slowly become normalized in stores and restaurants. In 2023, Singapore's Huber's Butchery became the first butcher shop in the world to sell cultivated chicken. The chicken was also featured on the menu at the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, per Business Wire

While Forbes reported in 2022 that cell-cultivated meat products are still more expensive than traditionally farmed meat, this could change as businesses scale and adapt to the market. FRED reported the average price for boneless chicken breasts dropped to $4.23 a pound in May 2023 from a high of $4.74 in September 2022. However, the cost of boneless chicken breasts has increased significantly since 2020, when prices were as low as $2.95 a pound in March. If Eat Just, Inc. and Upside Foods can find a way to release their products at a comparable price, farmers may need to adjust costs to keep up with the new competition.