ADM partners with Eat Just on cell-based meat growth medium and product development

Dive Brief:

  • Archer Daniels Midland entered a joint development agreement with Eat Just. The ingredients and commodities giant will help the California company’s Good Meat cultivated meat division create optimized cell growth media and improve taste and texture of cultivated meat products.
  • This is ADM’s first partnership in the cultivated meat space. It has invested in the space before, co-leading last year’s $347 million funding round for Future Meat Technologies through its ADM Ventures arm. This partnership includes an investment from ADM, according to Eat Just, but no details were disclosed.
  • Several big food companies are getting involved in the cell-based meat space through investments and partnerships. This is the first Big Food funding or partnership for Eat Just, which is currently the world’s only company approved to sell cultivated meat.

Dive Insight:

With its extensive portfolio of global commodities, food tech equipment and expertise and formulators, it makes sense for ADM to take part in the cultivated meat space.

Working with Eat Just’s Good Meat division on an optimized cell growth medium, as well as helping the company make its finished products look and taste better, is a perfect place for ADM to fit into this industry. ADM is one of the United States’ largest producers of animal feed. A press release about the partnership says that ADM is basically going to be doing that for Eat Just, but with a 21st century twist: “supplying the [cultivated meat] industry with superior livestock feed, supplements, and other ingredients for health and wellbeing.”

Improving the flavor, texture and other sensorial attributes of Good Meat products also fits into ADM’s business model. ADM has long worked with alternative proteins, especially plant-based products. The company has had a partnership with Brazil-based meat producer Marfrig to create plant-based meat products since 2020. In this partnership, ADM has played a lead role in formulating the products through ingredients and flavors. ADM also recently announced it was investing $300 million to expand its physical footprint in alternative proteins, both on the factory and production level and in terms of R&D.

ADM has led the way in partnering Big Food with high-tech, futuristic startups. Other than its joint venture with Marfrig, it inked a production and commercialization partnership with animal-free dairy maker Perfect Day in 2018. This agreement has helped Perfect Day become the leader in the nascent space, with its proteins appearing in products including ice cream, cream cheese, chocolate and milk. And ADM Ventures also co-led Air Protein’s $32 million funding round last year to help the company that makes meat analogs out of carbon dioxide scale up.

Eat Just is one of the leaders in cultivated meat. In November 2020, the company received the world’s first — and still only — government approval to sell cultivated meat for its chicken bites in Singapore. Since then, Eat Just has worked to raise money, improve its product, build out new facilities in Qatar and the U.S., and increase Singapore consumers’ opportunities to try cultivated meat. It is one of several companies working with U.S. regulators toward eventual stateside approval of cultured meat.

This partnership could help drive the cell-based meat industry toward products that are less expensive and more widely accepted by consumers worldwide. While cell-based meat is not sold in many places, it has carried a high price tag — largely because of the cell growth medium. While many companies have transitioned away from more expensive growth medium that was derived from animals, what is used now is a precise balance of chemicals and nutrients that is still somewhat pricey. ADM has both the supplies and expertise to create something powerful and less expensive.

With the company’s knowhow for product creation, ADM can help Eat Just make a CPG or ready-to-cook foodservice product that is more appetizing to consumers. Though, as videos made by Eat Just show, the cultivated chicken is already getting good consumer responses on its own.