San Francisco food startup Just Inc. is changing course, from specializing in plant-based animal replacement products to creating cultured meat as well. To date, the flagship products have been Just Egg and Just Mayo, made from the liquid by-product of mung beans and peas, and now the company is planning a new round of fundraising ahead of an initial public offering to help raise money for developing chicken, pork and beef in a lab.
CEO Josh Tetrick is not pitching this new direction at vegans, but rather the new wave of omniverous consumers who don’t necessarily want to give up meat; however, they know that current methods of farming are not sustainable, or ethical. This group of consumers is repeatedly demonstrated to be the driving force behind the growth in sales of meat replacement products. According to data from Nielsen, supermarket sales in alternative meat surged 19.2% to $878 million in 2018.
Just Inc. was formally Hampton Creek, a name that Tetrick moved away from after facing probes by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department, for possible securities violations and criminal fraud, these investigations were later dropped. He has also faced a lawsuit over a trademark. 2017 was a turbulent year as Target Corp terminated their relationship with Hampton Creek, and Tetrick, was the sole person on the board as everyone left, having since been replaced.
Tetrick said in a recent interview with Bloomberg: “The best way to do meat is not to do plant-based, but a meat-based approach. Meat is part of our culture and identity, the way men and women think of themselves.”