California-based food tech company JUST, the maker of a liquid vegan egg made from mung beans, has announced a clean meat partnership with Japanese beef producer, Toriyama and meat and seafood supplier, the Awano Food Group.
What Is Wagyu Beef?
The historic collaboration will see to the production of cultured meat that looks, cooks, and tastes like Wagyu beef, a world-renowned variety of Japanese beef prized for its high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content. This is achieved through genetic mapping and living at a high altitude in what many consider to be high-quality conditions.
The luxury meat is easily identified by its appearance – a vibrant red contrasted with white marbling, and is valued for its tender texture and rich, umami flavor.
JUST’s Clean Wagyu Meat
JUST, which first announced its intention to produce cultured meat in June 2017, will develop clean Wagyu beef from Toriyama cattle cell lines, making use of the family-owned company’s decades of experience.
“For decades, the Toriyama family has paired science and skill with a passion for achieving a superior flavor for all the meat they produce. Precious few have had the chance to experience umami Wagyu and we hope this partnership allows more restaurants to share Toriyama beef and its story in a new, exciting way,” said Josh Tetrick, co-founder and CEO of JUST, in a statement.
The first step includes extensive research and development, followed by making production scalable, testing the product, and finally, regulatory approvals and availability to the public. Awano, which also distributes JUST’s vegan egg, will then market and cell the high-tech luxury meat.
Tetrick continued, “I’m thankful that Toriyama has entrusted our team with this project and we are fortunate to have a highly regarded distribution partner like Awano to help us bring this special meat to the world.”
“Wagyu is a symbolic ingredient in Japanese culinary culture and we are proud to honor this tradition for more than 30 years. 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,” said Makoto Toriyama, CEO of Toriyama.
When scalable, the high-end clean protein will be distributed to restaurants while promoting an appreciation for Wagyu culture.
“As a forward-thinking purveyor of high-end meats, Awano has gained ground in some of the fastest animal protein consumption markets in the world. In order for us to satisfy the needs of our customers for generations to come and manage environmental and animal welfare implications of increased meat production and consumption, partnerships like this one will be critical,” said Rod Martin, COO of Awano.
JUST’s Clean Meat
JUST is one of many companies, including Memphis Meats, Supermeat, New Age Meats, and Japan’s Integriculture, that are working to bring cell cultured meat to market. But JUST, originally made famous for its vegan mayo, appears to be the closest brand to bringing clean meat to market.
Last October, Tetrick announced that JUST’s clean chicken nuggets would be available by the end of the year. The product, which will have “a chicken bite with fried chicken skin,” will be available in restaurants in Asia first and the company is considering two to three other countries. Stateside, Tetrick has urged the FDA and USDA to develop clear regulations for clean meat, highlighting its potential as a protein source.
Bringing clean meat to market will not only spare the lives of animals killed for meat, but will also provide a more sustainable, healthier alternative to traditional meat.
Image Credit: JUST
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