Silicon Valley food technology startup JUST—known for its vegan products JUST Mayo and Just Egg—announced a historic partnership today with Japanese meat producer Toriyama Ranch. JUST will work with Toriyama to produce slaughter-free (also known as cultured or cell-based meat) using cells from the company’s “Wagyu” cows—a rare species that is sold as a luxury meat item. “We’re gonna make a damn burger,” JUST CEO Josh Tetrick told Quartz. “And it’s going to taste like a Wagyu burger from Japan.” Once JUST develops slaughter-free Wagyu meat—which will first be developed as ground meat, with the aim of creating a cheaper version of its steak format in the future—the product will be distributed through Awano Food Group, one of Toriyama’s meat distributors that recently began distributing mung bean-based JUST Egg in Asia. Toriyama will receive a percentage of sales of JUST’s slaughter-free Wagyu, which will eventually become cheaper to produce and more affordable than its counterpart. “I’ve been in the meat industry for 30 years now,” Awano executive Rod Martin said. “I think JUST’s way of thinking about the products of the future is how the world will consume protein within 20 years.” Tetrick plans to partner with other meat companies to develop slaughter-free alternatives to premium animals products including pork, seafood, and chicken. By the end of this year, JUST plans to debut its first slaughter-free product—chicken made in a lab-setting from a small number of animal cells—on a restaurant menu outside of the United States.
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