JUST, the company formerly known as Hampton Creek, had an incredibly successful year in 2018 with their plant-based offerings, including their flagship product, a mayo made from yellow split peas, and their egg substitute created from mung beans. Now the company has announced a “clean meat partnership” with Japanese beef producer, Toriyama, to produce lab-grown waygu beef.
The question of whether this product will be suitable for vegans is as usual open to debate – as with several other clean meat products – since the initial stage involves the use of animal cells. JUST´s website states: “As with any other product, the first step is an extensive research and development phase, followed by scale-up, testing, regulatory approvals and launching a finished product to the public. Ultimately, with a few cells from the best cows in the world, we’ll be able to bring the Toriyama family’s tradition to millions more — building a healthier, stronger and more just food system along the way.”
JUST will produce the renowned waygu beef product with Toriyama and distribute worldwide through its export agent, Awano Food Group. Together with Toriyama, JUST will grow the beef from Toriyama cell lines in its clean meat labs. According to Food Dive, Toriyama’s cattle have a “distinct biological pedigree” and the living conditions of the cows are a factor in the taste and texture of the meat. A statement from the company says that the cows are raised at high altitude in impeccable conditions, and Food Dive says that “JUST also will be tasked with making sure its meat tastes like what comes from the pampered cows.”
Based on this, it seems that JUST´s new venture could be a point of contention for many vegans, however it is hardly a secret that they and many other clean meat producers, principally aim towards meat-eaters and flexitarians. Their mission with the waygu beef, is apparently to “deliver deliciousness to everyone.”
Food Dive states that the partnership is presently in its early stages and as such the end product is far from reaching the market. But if the success of their existing products is anything to go by, the waygu beef is sure to create disruption in the industry. As commented by Toriyama´s CEO, Makoto Toriyama, “Our embrace of science and technology has allowed us to produce unparalleled umami beef and the kind of technology developed by JUST has the potential to bring about a fascinating new era of more sustainable meat production.”