NO MORE MEAT ON THE MENU
Josh Tetrick, CEO and Co-founder of Eat Just wants to disrupt the way we look at our food system to create a better future for our planet with cultured – not conventional – meats.
Josh Tetrick, CEO and Co-founder of Eat Just
If you love meat, you should have it, without the guilt of contributing to animal cruelty or to greenhouse gas emissions. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that a plant-based product is the answer if your palate disagrees with it. The launch of Eat Just’s first cultured chicken means that the dichotomy between your epicurean desires and socio-religious ethics no longer gets in the way. You can pretty much have your cake – in this case, chicken – and eat it too. It is really chicken, and that’s the cellular truth.
Josh Tetrick, CEO and Co-founder of San-Francisco-based Eat Just, has created a tidal wave in the F&B industry with cultured chicken that has been given regulatory approval for consumption in Singapore. Not only that, the company has made its first commercial sale to 1880, a private members-only club for well-heeled cosmopolitans. For this Fulbright scholar, synergising social and business agendas is an art form that yields productive results and creates meaningful ripple effects in communities. His passion for making a difference in social issues and applying his business smarts has led him down a path less glamorous but no less important; which includes teaching children in Nigeria and South Africa, leading a United Nations business initiative in Kenya, and working for former President Bill Clinton and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
These stints in less privileged countries eventually gave him the mission that drives him today. “It was while I was working with kids in Sub-Saharan Africa that I came across this book titled “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” and it really opened my eyes as to how you can solve the world’s most pertinent problems with capitalism. It showed me that it is possible to build profitable ‘bottom of the pyramid’ markets, reduce poverty and create an inclusive capitalism that works for everyone,” shares Tetrick. This revelation combined with the fact that his best friend, and current cofounder, had always highlighted the issue of animal cruelty in the commercial world, led him to create a company that addresses this problem: To eradicate animal cruelty in commercial livestock production facilities by eliminating the need to kill animals in the first place.
“Our goal is to create an entirely new food system. Think about it; the acts of rearing livestock, feeding them, producing the feed, packing them into tight spaces and slaughtering them all contribute to climate change, zoonotic diseases and food that doesn’t align with our values. Our goal is to ultimately improve the health of our planet and of humankind so that we can all have a higher quality of life. We are doing this so that our grandkids won’t have to wear masks; our rainforests won’t be ravaged by climate change, and the coral reefs right outside my house will be preserved,” shares Tetrick.
Tetrick also addressed the misconception that his mission negatively impacts the livelihoods of farmers in the agriculture industry. He stressed that his aim is to impact the activities of big commercial facilities rather than that of the farmers. “The reality of animal production today is that 99% of the beef, chicken or pork that is produced on the planet is not by a farmer who goes into his barn every day to check on his cows. It’s made in warehouses where animals are stacked up body to body, and the work in these facilities are often automated.”
As with many inventions and innovative ideas that are ground-breaking and disturb the norm, there will be nay sayers. As to whether Tetrick is seen as a visionary or a disruptor, it depends on which perspective one chooses to believe in. He makes the bold statement that conventional meat should be off the menu and it shouldn’t even be an option. “We talked to 103 restaurants in a survey and asked if they would consider selling cultured meat and 91% said yes, while 82% could envision a menu in which conventional meat is replaced with cultured meat within 10 years.” According to Eat Just, the survey was answered by a mix of restaurateurs, GMs and chefs who represented these independent restaurants, including a handful that Eat Just had communicated with directly in Singapore. The Good Meat restaurant operator survey was conducted in partnership with a management consulting firm.
Tetrick is not shy about being labelled as a “disruptor”. He makes it clear that his company is indeed here to disrupt the vicious cycles of destruction that are impacting the planet. “And if it means that the current industry needs to change, or that some jobs need to transition to other industries, then it is what it is. I think that as long as we do it with a sense of mission and ethics, then it’s just a part of the painful process that has to happen,” he stresses.
With regulatory and commercial developments going smoothly, Eat Just is going full steam ahead in its business
We talked to 103 restaurants in a survey and asked if they would consider selling cultured meat and 91% said yes, while 82% could envision a menu in which conventional meat is replaced with cultured meat. JOSH TETRICK, CEO AND CO- FOUNDER, EAT JUST
expansion plans for new product lines. This go-getter lives by his mantra to ‘put your head down to do the work’ and to ‘be here, be in the moment’. And he most certainly is riding the wave with speed and good form. With minced chicken being the first product offering, the next step is to advance the process to create texture with muscle and fatty components, and then to create chicken wing with cartilege and bones. Once that’s accomplished, Eat Just will take on the challenge of creating cultured beef and pork.
“We want to continue to make an impact in Singapore. 49% of Singaporeans are aware of cultured meats and we’d like to think that our launch has something to do with it. That’s even higher than the level of awareness in the US, and we want to continue to leverage on that and to educate consumers on the benefits of eating cultured meat,” says Tetrick.
He also shared that consumers under the age of 25 are very accepting of it and approve of the fact that no animals are slaughtered, while those over 25 place more importance on the production process and question how and where it’s made, which means that transparency is a top priority in consumer communication.
One of the messages coming cross clearly from Tetrick is the fact that Eat Just operates with CSR at the heart of its business model, and he believes in aligning his social and business agendas. He is also laser-focused on the fact that a strong belief in the mission will pave the way to a better future. He puts it very simply and aptly: “I think the secret of success for us is to not be distracted by good news or bad news, but to keep our heads down and to continue to do meaningful work...and one of the most important goals right now is to get the food system right. I don’t think it gets any more complicated than that.”