USDA approves Upside Foods, Good Meat to sell cultivated chicken

Brooke DiPalma

Brooke DiPalma·Reporter, Booking Producer Wed, June 21, 2023, 5:09 PM EDT

On Wednesday, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted approval for Upside Foods and Good Meat, a subsidiary of Eat Just, Inc., to produce and sell their lab-grown cell-cultivated chicken products in the United States.

Both companies are gearing up to debut their products with well-known restauranteurs. Upside Foods plans to debut its products at 3-Michelin star chef Dominique Crenn’s Bar Crenn in San Francisco. Good Meat is teaming up with celebrity chef José Andrés at one of his restaurants in Washington, DC, though there’s no word on which one or when customers will start seeing the meat on the menu.

Good Meat’s products have been available in Singapore since 2020 and are sold everywhere from fine-dining establishments to roadside vendors. In a press release, Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of GOOD Meat and Eat Just, called its entry into the US market a “major moment for our company, the industry and the food system.”

Upside founder and CEO Uma Valeti told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday that it believes its “delicious, complex, and whole-textured chicken product” will “set the gold standard for the industry.”

Both companies cultivate their meat by placing chicken cells in large steel vessels. They then feed the cells nutrients to help them multiply and grow. It takes the meat about two to three weeks to develop and be harvested before it’s ready to eat. On its website, Upside compared the process to that of brewing beer, “but instead of growing yeast or bacteria, we grow animal cells.”

Upside Foods
Upside Foods’ Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center

For now, however, cultivated meat will come at a cost. Valeti told Yahoo Finance the company will start with premium pricing.

“Our aspirational goal at the moment is to beat the conventional prices….we’re going to start out with premium pricing when we come into the market…that’s because we are on a small scale,” Valeti said back in December when it received FDA approval. He said prices will likely come down over time. “We expect our products to be at parity with conventional meat, but that’s going to be 5 to 15 years away.”

As of now its production center, known as the Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center (EPIC) can produce up to 50,000 pounds, with plans to expand capacity to 400,000 pounds.

UPSIDE Foods partners with 3-Michelin Star chef Dominique Crenn to introduce cultivated meat offering to consumers. (Courtesy: UPSIDE Foods).
UPSIDE Foods partners with 3-Michelin star chef Dominique Crenn to introduce cultivated meat offering to consumers. (Courtesy: UPSIDE Foods).

A spokesperson from Good Meat said pricing for its products will be similar to those at the upscale restaurants where it’s being offered. He added that the company is willing to lose money as it gains customers’ interest.

“We strive to work with restaurant partners to price our chicken dish on par with traditional dishes. We’re not making money on sales, in fact, we’re losing money, but it’s important that our consumers are paying what they would for a traditional dish. As we scale, the cost will come down.”

Neither company plans to enter grocery stores in the near future. Good Meat said it will be “quite a while” until it will hit grocery stores.

The industry is only beginning to heat up though. Per Grand View Research, the cultivated meat market was valued at $246.9 million last year and is set to grow at an annual rate of 51.6% from 2023 to 2030.

Brooke DiPalma is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma or email her at bdipalma@yahoofinance.com.

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