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Josh Tetrick CEO and founder Eat Just
Josh Tetrick: 'We founded this company to take the animal out of the equation...' Image credit: Eat Just

Eat Just closes financing round led by VegInvest/Ahimsa Foundation, moves ‘closer to operational profitability’ in JUST Egg operation

September 1, 2023

Plant-based egg and cultivated meat co Eat Just has raised a new round of financing led by The Ahimsa Foundation, a private foundation supported by VegInvest. Eat Just has not confirmed the amount, which was reported by Bloomberg to include $16 million from Ahimsa.

The capital injection will enable Eat Just—which prior to this round had raised a jaw-dropping $850 million, inclusive of about $270 million for its GOOD Meat subsidiary—to “continue improving the quality and profitability of its products,” said founder and CEO Josh Tetrick.

“We founded this company to take the animal out of the equation, and today, we’re proud to continue this vital work with an investor who has shown an unwavering commitment to this ideal.”

‘We still have a lot of work to do’

Tetrick, who laid off 18% of his staff at the Just Egg plant-based egg business earlier this year, told AgFunderNews that Just Egg is “closer to operational profitability” but “still has a lot of work to do.”

A high-profile player in the alternative protein space launching in December 2011 with a mission to disrupt the food system, Eat Just (formerly Hampton Creek) emerged victorious from PR spats with Unilever​​ and the FDA​​, raised bucketloads of cash from Silicon Valley’s biggest investors, and developed a range of consumer products from Just Mayo to Just Cookie Dough using yellow pea protein.

By 2016, however, anonymous sources were briefing Business Insider​​ about a ‘cult of delusion’ at the company, while Bloomberg​​ published a steady stream of damaging articles alleging fraudulent product buyback schemes, boardroom squabbling, food safety issues and financial problems.

JUST Egg: Repeat purchase rate of 51%

In 2018, however, the narrative changed again with the launch of JUST Egg​​, a plant-based egg alternative made with mung bean protein that quickly demonstrated the potential to transform the company’s fortunes.

By August 2019, Just Mayo was on its way out, and Tetrick was telling reporters that, “The company is JUST Egg, and JUST Egg is the company​.”

Fast forward to 2023, and JUST Egg is the dominant player in the plant-based egg space with a repeat purchase rate of 51% and distribution in 48,000+ retail points of distribution in North America, and branded partnerships with CPG companies adding an additional 10,000 points of retail distribution.

Foodservice sales for JUST Egg grew 15% and 39% in Q1 and Q2 of this year respectively, claimed head of global communications Andrew Noyes.

“Foodservice is now gross-margin-positive. Recent notable foodservice launches include two major airlines (United and Alaska Air), numerous colleges and universities (45% growth in the last year) and prominent burger joints and coffee chains. We gained 18% new points of distribution in retail driven by JUST Egg Folded at +40% and JUST Egg (pourable) at +6%.”

However, more work still needs to be done on improving margins via more efficient sourcing of mung beans, increased scale, monetizing co-products (mung bean starch), and improving the protein extraction process, said Tetrick.

GOOD Meat: Raising money

The GOOD Meat cultivated meat business, which now sells small amounts of product in the US as well as Singapore, will still need to raise “significant” sums to fund a large-scale plant in the US, said Tetrick.

Read our full interview with Tetrick in AgFunderNews in the coming days…

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