“The restaurant dinners we held at China Chilcano in Washington, DC last summer went extremely well,” wrote Eat Just’s director of global communications, Carrie Kabat, in an emailed statement to WIRED. “We plan to resume these dinners this year.”
Good Meat/Eat Just’s chicken had also previously been on sale in Singapore, but sales there have also been paused. “In Singapore, we are ramping up production and plan to begin serving shortly,” Kabat wrote.
The goal of these early cultivated meat sales was likely to generate buzz, gauge public reaction, and raise awareness of the industry, says Steve Molino, an investor at Clear Current Capital, a plant-based and cultivated meat venture capital firm, who has not invested in either Eat Just or Upside Foods. “It accomplished what it needed to accomplish and now it’s time to refocus,” Molino says, noting that the companies probably made a loss on the sale of their meat given the high costs of production.
Eat Just is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with a former partner over alleged unpaid invoices. In a November 2023 WIRED investigation, former employees alleged that the company was struggling financially and failed to pay vendors on time. “The reality for us now is we need to figure out a way to build large-scale facilities without spending north of half a billion dollars, because it’s simply not viable long-term,” Eat Just CEO Josh Tetrick told WIRED at the time. “There has to be a better way of doing it. And if we can’t figure out a different way of doing it, then what we’re doing won’t work.”
Although cultivated meat is no longer on sale in the US and Singapore, both Eat Just and Upside Foods told WIRED that they planned to relaunch sales in 2024. And last month, Israel-based Aleph Farms received regulatory approval from the Israeli Ministry of Health for its cultivated beef product: a mix of beef cells and plant protein. The company still requires an inspection of its pilot production facility in Rehovot and directions on labeling and marketing from Israeli regulators before it can sell its product in Israel.
“Post inspection of our production facility, Aleph Cuts will be introduced in targeted tasting experiences for consumers and relevant stakeholders,” says Aleph Farms CEO and cofounder Didier Toubia. “This phase of limited market activations allows us to gather feedback from consumers, refine our brand positioning collaboratively with them, and lay the foundation for a successful long-term launch.”
Sheila Voss, senior vice president of communications at the alternative protein nonprofit the Good Food Institute, says she expects the rollout of cultivated meat to continue in the US.
“As we saw in Singapore, the first country in the world to approve the sale of cultivated meat, the rollout to consumers migrated across fine dining restaurants, home delivery, and hawker stalls, highlighting the versatility of this product, and we expect similar introductory rollouts in the US,” she says. “We are still at the very early stages of cultivated meat’s entrance into the marketplace.”