Eat Just, the plant-based food startup, is launching a new Asian subsidiary through a partnership with Proterra Investment Partners Asia. The agreement includes building Eat Just’s first factory in Asia, which will be based in Singapore.
As part of the deal, Proterra, which focuses on agri-tech, will invest up to $100 million in the facility, while Eat Just will invest $20 million. The new subsidiary, called Eat Just Asia, will focus on creating a fully-integrated supply chain, working with manufacturers and distributers for Eat Just’s flagship product, vegan egg substitute Just Egg, which is made from mung beans.
Once completed, the Singapore facility will “generate thousands of metric tons of protein,” said Eat Just’s announcement. Eat Just Asia also received support from the Singaporean government’s Economic Development Board.
In addition to Just Egg, Eat Just and Proterra said they are also in talks to expand their partnership to include the development of plant-based meat alternatives.
Eat Just’s current distribution partners in Asia include SPC Samlip in South Korea, Betagro in Thailand and an as-of-yet undisclosed new partner in China, where Just Egg is already available on Alibaba’s Tmall and JD.com.
Based in San Francisco and formerly known as Hampton Creek, Eat Just has received total of about $220 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Its investors include Khosla Ventures and Li Ka-Shing.
Eat Just announced in March that it will focus on global expansion this year, with partnerships in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Over the following months, it announced a succession of distribution deals for Just Egg, including ones with American food manufacturer and distributor Michael Foods, a subsidiary of Post Holdings, and European plant-based food manufacturer Emsland Group.
In Asia, demand for plant-based protein foods grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, due in part to concerns about the safety of meat and other animal products. In an April 2020 Reuters article, Eat Just said sales of Just Egg on JD.com and Tmall had grown 30% since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.
Other plant-based food startups focusing on Asian markets include Impossible Foods, which announced funding of $500 million in March to expand in Asia; Karana, a Singaporean startup that makes meat substitutes from jackfruit; and Malaysian-based Phuture Foods, which uses a variety of plants to make pork substitutes.