Is stealing morally acceptable now? Is Canada's strong croissant game costing consumers here money, the Grocery Code of Conduct rolls forward, and how much is too much information about cancer and alcohol? Our special guest Josh Tetrick, CEO and co-founder of Eat Just and his vision for plant-based eggs and real meat cultivated in stainless steel instead of a factory farm.
Welcome to The Food Professor podcast, Season three!
We're back on the mic after a busy couple of weeks for Sylvain and the podcast; our last episode with Robert Andjelich, the largest farm owner in Canada, was our most popular ever, though some of that activity may be a reflection of Sylvain's media popularity in the past couple of weeks too!
Our extraordinary guest this week is a revolutionary farmer of a different type, Josh Tetrick, CEO and co-founder of Eat Just Inc
In this episode,
JoshTetrick, co-founder and CEO, Eat Just, Inc.
JoshTetrick is CEO & co-founder of Eat Just, Inc., a food technology company with a mission to build a healthier, safer and more sustainable food system in our lifetimes. The company's expertise, from functionalizing plant proteins to culturing animal cells, is powered by a world-class team of scientists and chefs spanning more than a dozen research disciplines. Eat Just created one of America’s fastest-growing egg brands, which is made entirely of plants, and the world’s first-to-market meat made from animal cells instead of slaughtered livestock. Prior to founding Eat Just, Tetrick led a United Nations business initiative in Kenya and worked for both former President Clinton and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. As Fulbright Scholar, Tetrick taught schoolchildren in Nigeria and South Africa and is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Michigan Law School. Tetrick has been named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business,” Inc.’s “35 Under 35” and Fortune’s “40 Under 40.” Eat Just has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies,” Entrepreneur’s “100 Brilliant Companies,” CNBC’s “Disruptor 50” and a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is a Professor in food distribution and policy in the Faculties of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He is also the Senior Director of the Agri-food Analytics Lab, also located at Dalhousie University. Before joining Dalhousie, he was affiliated with the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute, which he co-founded. Known as “The Food Professor”, his current research interest lies in the broad area of food distribution, security and safety. Google Scholar ranks him as one of the world's most cited scholars in food supply chain management, food value chains and traceability.
He has authored five books on global food systems, his most recent one published in 2017 by Wiley-Blackwell entitled “Food Safety, Risk Intelligence and Benchmarking”. He has also published over 500 peer-reviewed journal articles in several academic publications. Furthermore, his research has been featured in several newspapers and media groups, including The Lancet, The Economist, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC, NBC, ABC, Fox News, Foreign Affairs, the Globe & Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star.
Dr. Charlebois sits on a few company boards, and supports many organizations as a special advisor, including some publicly traded companies. Charlebois is also a member of the Scientific Council of the Business Scientific Institute, based in Luxemburg. Dr. Charlebois is a member of the Global Food Traceability Centre’s Advisory Board based in Washington DC, and a member of the National Scientific Committee of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in Ottawa.
Michael is the Founder & President of M.E. LeBlanc & Company Inc. and a Senior Advisor to Retail Council of Canada and the Bank of Canada as part of his advisory and consulting practice. He brings 25+ years of brand/retail/marketing & eCommerce leadership experience with Levi's, Black & Decker, Hudson's Bay, Today's Shopping Choice and Pandora Jewellery.
Michael has been on the front lines of retail industry change for his entire career. He has delivered keynotes, hosted fire-side discussions with C-level executives and participated worldwide in thought leadership panels. ReThink Retail has added Michael to their prestigious Top Global Retail Influencers list for 2023 for the third year in a row.
Michael is also the president of Maven Media, producing a network of leading trade podcasts, including Canada's top retail industry podcast, The Voice of Retail. He produces and co-hosts Remarkable Retail with best-selling author Steve Dennis, now ranked one of the top retail podcasts in the world.
In 2020 Michael launched The Food Professor with Dr. Sylvain Charlebois exploring the critical issues in food, grocery and food service. The Food Professor podcast is one of Apple Podcasts' top 20 business management podcasts in Canada, and currently the number one Canadian produced and hosted podcast in the category.
Based in New York, Conversations with CommerceNext is a podcast focusing on retail eCommerce, digital marketing and retail careers with episodes talking with C-level executives operating in the U.S. and internationally.
Based in San Francisco, Global eCommerce Leaders podcast explores global cross-border issues and opportunities for eCommerce brands and retailers.
Last but not least, Michael is the producer and host of the "Last Request Barbeque" channel on YouTube, where he cooks meals to die for - and collaborates with top brands as a food and product influencer across North America.
Michael LeBlanc 00:04
Welcome to The Food Professor Podcast Season 3, Episode 10. I'm Michael LeBlanc,
Sylvain Charlebois 00:10
And I'm The Food Professor Sylvain Charlebois.
Michael LeBlanc 00:13
Well, Sylvain, we're back on the mic after a busy couple of weeks for you. And for the podcast, and for the podcasts. Our last episode with Robert Andjelic, the largest farm owner in Canada, was our most popular ever, though I have a feeling (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 00:25
That's great. Wow.
Michael LeBlanc 00:29
I do have a feeling that some of that activity may be a reflection of your popularity in the past couple of weeks. You've had a busy couple of weeks my friend.
Sylvain Charlebois 00:37
I don't know. I don't know. But I thought Robert really did a great job giving us an idea of his business. He's, he's a, he's a leader. I mean, it's yeah, he's an innovator, leader and it was great to have him on for sure.
Michael LeBlanc 00:51
You know, It was great, it was a great interview. And speaking of interviews, our very special guest this week is a revolutionary farmer of a very different type Josh Tetrick, CEO and co-founder of Eat Just Inc. Yeah,
Sylvain Charlebois 01:04
Yeah, that is absolutely going to be a fabulous interview. I mean, he's I mean his company was the first company to receive an approval, an official approval from a country to sell legally, sell cultured meat in Singapore. So, that's, I'm looking forward to that conversation for sure.
Michael LeBlanc 01:25
Well, it's interesting, right? We go from someone who owns a lot of farmland to someone who owns no farmland.
Sylvain Charlebois 01:41
Michael LeBlanc 01:42
Some of our listeners may know JUST Egg which actually was on one of our segments last year, we tried it. So, plant-based eggs, but this is, this is a whole different thing. We'll talk about it after we listen to Josh, but this is, (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 01:45
The company's name is Eat Just Inc. Yeah.
Michael LeBlanc 01:49
There we go. All right, so let's get into it. So, you know, you know, I have a little bit of background in sociology and criminology, and I was so interested to see the reaction and the back and forth that's been going on around stealing food. You know, we've got lawyers trying to, you know, I don't know, chase some different ambulance, I guess that says, hey, listen, I'll, I'll rep-, I'll represent you pro bono if you take food and you need it. What's going on here is, is stealing food, have we got to a place where stealing food is somehow morally acceptable, now?
Sylvain Charlebois 02:23
There is some confusion out there. And, of course, it all started with my op-ed a couple of weeks ago on store theft and I actually was addressing organized crime really, people going in stealing 1000s and 1000s of dollars of food to be resold in the black market. And it is a problem. When, when prices go up. It's a problem. But there's also an element of desperation pushing some people to steal some food. And, and frankly, I mean, I, that's a different, that's a different issue right there.
Sylvain Charlebois 02:47
And I think that right now, there's so much blame given towards grocers that everyone wants to kind of punish grocers by stealing. And so, going in and stealing for yourself and your family is one thing, but to actually go on, on, on social media and encourage people to steal is something that I did not expect. I don't know how surprised you were, but I was not expecting that at all. And in fact, I became the target being someone who was sold to the devil, grocers, because we did get a grant from the Western Foundation six years ago. But we do not have a relationship with the Western Foundation at all now and we don't have a relationship financially or with any of the grocers. So, we're not, we're not, we weren't defending anything. We were just stating facts. I was a little bit surprised to see some of the reaction for sure. Were you surprised?
Michael LeBlanc 04:03
I was, I mean, on the one hand, I wonder you know, I might, let me reframe the question. How do you like Twitter now? You know, I just think it's, it's a (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 04:13
Yeah, because there's Twitter and there's society and they're two different things.
Michael LeBlanc 04:16
Right, right and I think there's a lot of games going on and I don't really know or understand the full breadth of it. But I was surprised by the energy. What did you have like 6 million views or some crazy amount on some of these tweets? And, I just had, (crossover talk) to think that (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 04:31
The tweet that I was basically challenging the one person who was encouraging others to steal was viewed by almost 10 million people. So, (crossover talk).
Michael LeBlanc 04:42
10 million people or 10 million somethings I mean 10 million robots or whatever. But,
Sylvain Charlebois 04:48
Well, this is the other thing Michael that I noticed in recent, in recent weeks, every time I tweet within seconds, within seconds, there's a comment.
Michael LeBlanc 04:59
Bots, it's bots, right.
Sylvain Charlebois 05:02
Coming from a bot And, and, and that influences how people perceive the tweet itself. So, there's something going on with Twitter, to be honest, that concerns me quite a bit. So, I'm being a little bit more careful. Right now, when I tweet, I actually don't allow comments to be made within the hour, for example.
Michael LeBlanc 05:27
Oh, I see. Okay, okay.
Sylvain Charlebois 05:28
Yeah, because I'm very careful just to prevent some of the bots from actually contaminating the message that I'm trying to convey. And then after that, things calmed down.
Michael LeBlanc 05:32
And then so, so to speak, just slow the roll.
Michael LeBlanc 05:37
Michael LeBlanc 05:38
Of that, misinformation or disinformation. Now, would you ever consider leaving Twitter? Do you, I mean, you've always found it a very valuable communication tool, and a feedback tool as well. Would you, what are you thinking?
Sylvain Charlebois 05:47
Well, if there's something that can replace Twitter, I would certainly consider it. But right now, there's nothing and so am I. I mean, I've thought of pausing for a while. I mean, you're, you're on Twitter, too. But you see all the nastiness and the ugliness. I actually think, (crossover talk) in the last few months it just got worse.
Michael LeBlanc 06:08
More now. I see a lot, a lot worse now. Anyway, I think we're not alone and wondering if there's another choice behind here besides one, but (crossover talk) what does it do for you?
Sylvain Charlebois 06:17
Just for the record, I mean, the,
Michael LeBlanc 06:20
Yeah, go ahead.
Sylvain Charlebois 06:22
One thing that really bothered me with the campaign is people can call me names. And but the one thing that really bothered me as an academic is this accusation of being in conflict. And so, as an academic, of course, when people suggest or imply that I'm in conflict, you have to go back to our conflict of interest policy at Dal and I did contact legal, our legal office and consulted with them to just to make sure, make sure that I wasn't in conflict and according to them, based on the information that they have, I was never in conflict at all. So, I just wanted to, and I did actually send out a statement over the weekend about that and, and I didn't get any reaction. So, that's a, that's a good sign. Things have calmed down a little bit.
Michael LeBlanc 07:08
That's good. It's good to have dialogue, but a bit too much dialogue is, yeah, it's a bit, it was a bit hot, so to speak.
Sylvain Charlebois 07:15
Michael LeBlanc 07:16
Well, let's, let's move on to something a little more fun. And let's say I was, here's something I was shocked, literally shocked that Canada has become the largest croissant exporter in the world.
Sylvain Charlebois 07:23
You didn't know that?
Michael LeBlanc 07:26
I had no idea. I mean, what are we, I guess the fact that, (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 07:29
Viva la croissant.
Michael LeBlanc 07:31
I love croissants, I mean, (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 07:35
Did you know that croissants were from Austria?
Michael LeBlanc 07:37
I did not. You would know, you, you worked there, right. You were,
Sylvain Charlebois 07:40
I was in Austria.
Michael LeBlanc 07:42
You were a visiting academic in Austria? But what's going on? When did we become a croissant exporter? Like, and how do you export croissants? Like talk, talk about this a bit.
Sylvain Charlebois 07:51
This is a problem in dairy right now. And so, a lot of people are, are, are just blaming grocers. It's the easiest thing to do when, when you look at high prices at retail. But there are lots of factors contributing to higher prices and one of them, one factor that may actually be contributing to higher butter prices. Because butter prices have gone up 17 to 20% in the last year, is this demand for croissants, getting croissants overseas, we're exporting to get this. So, we were number two for about four years, until we caught up to Germany. And we're now number one, and we're exporting. We're exporting about $3 billion worth of croissants. What do you need when you make croissants?
Michael LeBlanc 08:41
Well, you need a lot of butter. That's so we must be exporting a lot of butter along with this croissants, right?
Sylvain Charlebois 08:46
I'd never put those three things together here to four. So, A lot of butter. And so, there's that pressure domestically to support, to support manufacturers, making croissants for overseas markets. But here's the, here's the, it is a challenge, Michael. We were subsidizing, we're partially subsidizing the dairy industry. Our dairy industry is highly protected. I have nothing against seeing Canada play a leading role in the croissant market around the world. It's actually great. But are we doing like two, three things at once that we shouldn't? I mean, we're protecting, subsidizing and exporting. That's kind of weird. Yeah. Well, the prob-, the problem is that some, some people, some manufacturers in Canada believe that because of the pressure created by more exports, it's pushing prices domestically higher.
Michael LeBlanc 09:42
Well, you heard it here, folks. We are a croissant nation.
Sylvain Charlebois 09:48
Exactly, yeah. I don't think that France I mean France, they actually make a lot of croissants, but they keep it all for themselves. You have to fly over to actually get it.
Michael LeBlanc 09:58
Sylvain Charlebois 07:59
La croissant, le croissant, le good croissant.
Michael LeBlanc 08:04
Let's shift gears a little bit and talk about alcohol. So, the CCSA came out with some new alcohol guidelines that made the news you commented in and around just your expertise around it. But it seems fairly clear that in one way, shape, or form can-, cancer or sorry, one way, shape or form, alcohol is a contributor to not such great things, but it's at how much you drink. And I guess, the study was, about zero is better for you. But then you get into quality of life. What's your, what's your read of what's going on? And I guess this all could come down to is there a new warning label on alcohol? I guess this is where the rubber hits the road? Or the wha-, or the (inaudible) hit the, hit the, hit the road, so to speak?
Sylvain Charlebois 10:50
Yeah, I mean, I wrote an op-ed. So, first of all, I read the report. I don't know if you looked at it, but I looked at it. And then kind of, I wasn't overly receptive. And, and to be honest, I'm not a big fan of the Canadian Centre for Disease and Addiction. It's mostly funded by Health Canada. And, when you look at some of the narratives coming out of the center, it's very, very anti-alcohol. And it's, it's, it's, it, there, there seems to be some risk aversion there. And so, and when I heard about labels on bottles, I thought, well, what's going on here? So, I actually read the report, I went online, and looked at the literature around alcohol consumption and cancer. And I gotta tell you, I was a little bit overwhelmed. It's not my area of expertise.
Sylvain Charlebois 11:19
So, I got educated with the science that’s been published over the last five years. And it's pretty, I mean, the evidence is pretty clear. It is a high risk for seven types of cancer, for sure. There's no doubt anymore. I mean, it's there. But how do we deal with that? I think and, and I think the report is very much about an invitation for Canadians to think about the relationship with alcohol. I don't think that labeling is the key here or a solution. But I actually do think that the beverage, the alcoholic beverage industry, that we have in Canada, has, has done wonders for Canadians and has provided some great products, and it will continue to do so. But at the same time, I do know that the entire industry is very much supportive of moderate responsible drinking, as well. And so, I do believe that over time, we'll see you know, more innovation, more stuff happening as we try to figure out, because the guidelines that were presented in 2011, it's 15. drinks a week for men, 10 drinks for a woman. Like, I don't know what your alcohol consumption is, Michael, but drinking 15 drinks a week is a lot of work.
Michael LeBlanc 13:04
Some weeks, it feels like not enough, but most weeks, (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 13:08
So, let's go from 15 to a maximum of two is a huge jump. So, I suspect that the report will be received. With a lot of criticism, the President and the CEO of the Centre did reach out to me on the weekend, I was glad. He was actually pleased. He knew, he knew that I'm not a big fan of his center. But he was pleased with the balance-op that I wrote about the report. But I do also recognize that there are gaps in our report one, they, they, they really treated science as buff-, like a buffet they kind of took, took a few studies here and there. But I did actually find studies that weren't even in the report too. So, the other thing, (crossover talk).
Michael LeBlanc 13:51
You've spoken of that before the idea that the pick and choose sciences are a buffet. We've seen that before, right?
Sylvain Charlebois 13:57
Yeah, we've seen that before, (crossover talk) to support a narrative. So, the other thing, of course, is, is, is, is how we socialize alcohol. I mean, there are that we have events, we have family gatherings. I mean, alcohol is always at the center of reunions and meetings and, and also games. And so, those are things that I think need to be considered and they didn't consider any of that in the report. If you read the report, people just drink, there's no purpose, there's no social purpose to drinking which is really not the case.
Michael LeBlanc 14:36
Yeah, that the benefits so to speak of socialization, particularly after what we've just been through the COVID era are not, not insubstantial, right? Mental health benefits, (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 14:46
Exactly so, so like I said it's important to have a balanced conversation about this and not just go full speed ahead with a risk averse agenda and put labels on everything and telling everyone to protect themselves from the bottle. I don't think that's the solution really.
Michael LeBlanc 15:04
Right, (crossover talk). All right. Well, let's, let's talk about a whole other different type of thing with our guests. Josh Tetrick. Josh, welcome to The Food Professor podcast. How are you doing this morning?
Josh Tetrick 15:15
I'm doing well. Ready to talk about some meat in the morning.
Sylvain Charlebois 15:20
Yeah, no kidding. Good morning, Josh.
Josh Tetrick 15:23
Michael LeBlanc 15:24
Well, and speaking of which this is, I think we're finding you in the West Coast, correct. So, this is pretty early morning for you. Where are you based?
Josh Tetrick 15:32
Our headquarters is in the East Bay in Alameda. So, we have a production facility there. Our R&D labs. And I'm, I'm taking this all from Berkeley about 40 minutes away from there.
Michael LeBlanc 15:44
All right. Now, is this where you're from originally? Or is this where you found the science to do all this work and the people. What, give us a bit of background on that.
Josh Tetrick 15:53
Originally from meat country in Alabama. So, I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Then I went to, went to school, all around the place and I finally graduated from Cornell. I spent some time in Africa, and then started the company out here in California.
Michael LeBlanc 16:10
And, and I guess, am I correct in saying that California was the place for you to start a company like this? It didn't, it wasn't happenstance that gave us a bit of insight to that.
Josh Tetrick 16:19
My ex-girlfriend, Jill, lived in LA and I had about $3,000 in my bank account. And she told me I could hang out on her couch where I figured my life out. So, I spent about six months basically preventing her from dating anyone else because I was in there all the time. And then I raised a little bit of money and moved up to northern California because in books and movies, you hear about people moving to Northern California where they raise a little bit of money to start a company. So, that's how I got here.
Michael LeBlanc 16:52
Well, that's great. So, you moved for love, innovation and funding. It's a, it's a,
Sylvain Charlebois 16:57
A nice trifecta. (Crossover talk).
Josh Tetrick 16:58
That's right and redwoods by the coast and,
Michael LeBlanc 17:01
Yeah, yeah, yeah, (crossover talk) all that weather and all that.
Josh Tetrick 17:03
And all that beautiful nature up here. That doesn't hurt.
Michael LeBlanc 17:05
Well, let's, let's talk about the company you founded. And talk about the genesis of the company where the idea, the background scope, scale, product.
Josh Tetrick 17:14
Yeah, the name of the company is Eat Just, and we do two things. We made eggs, that was the first thing we started doing. And then the second thing is we make meat and the whole purpose of the egg is under a brand called JUST Egg. It's in about 2 million households today and helped by the whole avian flu deal, which we don't think is a temporary thing.
Michael LeBlanc 17:39
And we tried that by the way (crossover talk) Andrew was kind enough and your team was kind enough to send us some samples. So, we did a, what we call the Trying Stuff episode with your, your foldable product, which I love in a, in a in, in an English muffin. And then, the liquid which I (crossover talk) which I studied today. Yeah,
Sylvain Charlebois 17:56
It was delicious. Yeah.
Josh Tetrick 17:56
Yeah cool. Very cool, yeah. And then GOOD Meat is not plant-based. It's actually real animal flesh without the need to slaughter an animal. It's called cultivated meat. And today, we're the only company in the world that sells it. We sell it in Singapore. But the purpose of both those things is to try to figure out a way to, to live in a world where we're not using half the planet to plant soy and corn to feed the animals who eat, we're not using more emissions and all the transportation sources combined. And we're not harming animals in our body just because, you know, we like good tastes and foods. So, we're trying different approaches to make that happen.
Michael LeBlanc 18:27
Now before we get into talking about the plant-based eggs first and then the cultivated meat. Just for the listeners maybe who haven't, don't know about it or haven't tried it. Talk about the plant-based eggs and what's that made of and a little bit about the process. Just to make sure everybody knows what we're talking about here.
Josh Tetrick 18:59
Yes, everyone knows about eggs. Just imagine you crack an egg in the morning, sizzling in the pan there it takes about 45 seconds or so to scramble or as we use gel. And you can make nice, scrambled eggs or an omelet and it tastes fatty and has a delicate mouthfeel and high in protein. And our job was to try to figure out if we could do it better with a plant. So, we know that there are 10s of 1000s of species of plants all over the world, right. We only use a handful of just one kind of thing, soy, corn and beans but there are 10s of 1000s of them. So, we thought, well what if there was one that can make a better version of an egg? And when we say better, we mean better in every respect, better taste, taste texture, mouthfeel flavor profile, better health, less saturated fat, free of cholesterol, higher quality proteins, vitamins, minerals, lower costs, a better shelf life, all of it. I'm sure there's certain things about haven't thought about yet. So, we want to make it better.
Josh Tetrick 19:39
And we spent a few years searching and then we found a bean called the mung bean, that has a storage protein in it that actually does scramble like an egg. So, our process is, we sourced the bean, it's a mung bean, this green looking bean, we then mill that being into a flour. So, in the same way that you'd mill anything into flour, we then take that flour, and we spin it fast. And when you spin it really fast, it separates the protein from the fat and the fiber in the starch because of the forces of gravity. And then we take that protein and bottle it up. And we, you pour it in the pan, you make an egg, or we bake it and you make the fold in the product. And today we're in about 2 million households everywhere from Birmingham, Alabama Walmart's to you know, your local natural grocery store in,
Michael LeBlanc 20:55
Up here in Canada. Yeah.
Josh Tetrick 21:01
(Crossover talk). In Canada. Yeah. So, yeah, that's JUST Egg.
Sylvain Charlebois 21:07
That's great. Now, at this point, we're in 2023, we've been talking about the plant-based market for a while. How do you see the plant-based market like right now in the US, Canada, around the Western world, down, sideways, growth contraction? How do you see it right now?
Josh Tetrick 21:29
Overall, from a global perspective, it's growing quickly. And when you look at the plant-based market, you really gotta, you know, drill into what you're talking about. Because you have some categories that are a little bit more mature, like plant-based milks that are still growing pretty fast, you have a variety of new plant-based meats that continue to come on the market, you have stuff like what we do plant-based eggs that are really new. So, plant-based eggs weren't around, you know, 10 years ago, we're sort of the first one that did it, and that's actually growing the fastest of all categories. So, overall, global growth is strong. One of the reasons we'll get to it, why we do cultivated meat, is we think that for the plant-based meat category, we're going to be able to get a lot of people to move from eating conventional meat to plant-based meat, but not enough people. So, we think we need to figure out a way to get even more to eat in a way that we think makes sense. And that's why we eventually did the real meat thing.
Sylvain Charlebois 22:39
Now my understanding is. So, you got approval out of Singapore, you're growing that market there. What about the US? My understanding reading about your company is that you've applied to get regulatory approval in the US, correct?
Josh Tetrick 22:53
We have Yes, in the United States, in Singapore, you're right, we got approval in late 2020. We've been selling it ever since and Singapore is the only country in the world that has ever approved, cultivated meat for sale. And we're the only company that's ever sold anything, we sell to butcher shops today. We've sold in street vendors and high-end restaurants; we've delivered with a delivery app called Food Panda. In the United States it's regulated by both the FDA and the USDA. So, it's jointly regulated.
Sylvain Charlebois 23:26
(Inaudible) upcycle got the approval from the FDA now in the fall.
Josh Tetrick 23:32
That's right? Yeah. So, again in order to sell it in the US, you need to get both approval from the US and the USDA. And we expect to, expect to be selling this year.
Sylvain Charlebois 23:47
That's 2023 this year. Wow. That's great. That's quick. That's quick. My guess is that Canada will be influenced by what's going on in the US for sure. Eventually.
Josh Tetrick 24:00
Yeah, I hope so. And vice-versa, vice-versa in a lot of things too,
Sylvain Charlebois 24:06
Josh Tetrick 24:07
Yeah, the, the, I'm sure we'll get into cultivated meat a little bit more. But yeah, you should think about it in phases where, you know, Singapore sort of showed that this wasn't science fiction, and actually could be on people's plates and people can pay for it. And obviously being here in the US, so that'll be a big deal. But then we got to really scale it up. You know, we're not in 23 We're not going to be selling 10s of millions of pounds. We've got to build the infrastructure, these big giant stainless-steel vessels, those things, ultimately 70 feet high.
Sylvain Charlebois 24:49
Josh Tetrick 24:50
You can make chicken, beef, pork at the scale necessary to be a national distribution, you know from Toronto, Montreal to Los Angeles to Birmingham. That's really what we're, we're pushing for.
Sylvain Charlebois 24:54
Michael LeBlanc 24:55
So, we started talking about this cultivated meat but let's take care. Let's step back because I'm pretty sure a lot of folks listening may, may have heard of it. But like you were articulating how your plant-based eggs were made. Tell us about how this is made. I mean, I'm, I'm trying to picture it in my head and I am struggling with just, you know, not the science, because I'm not a scientist, but just even the process. So, you know, take us through what, what the, the understanding we need to have about what, what are you talking about? What does this thing look like? And I think, I think I understand what it looks like at the end of the process, which is, you know, it looks like what substitute I don't know if you'd even call it that, but I don't understand how you get there. Tell us, tell us more about that.
Josh Tetrick 25:39
Yeah, well, let's start off with conventional meat quickly. Let's use chicken as an example. So, 80 billion animals are slaughtered yearly, 70 billion of those are chickens. And most chickens are in a warehouse setting at 10s of 1000s on the floor, or they live to about 45 days, they're slaughtered and chopped up into chicken breast, chicken thighs, chicken wings, processed into chicken nuggets. What we do is give folks what they want at the end of all that, good tasting, tender chicken. But in a way that uses significantly less resources that causes significantly less harm is a lot safer. So, we start with a cell. And you can get that cell from a cell bank, you can get it from an egg, you can get it from a fresh piece of meat, you can get it from a biopsy of an animal for just (inaudible) you start with the cell.
Josh Tetrick 26:58
The second step is you've got to feed the cell. So, in the same way that a chicken would consume soy and corn, and the constituents in the soy and corn, so think amino acids and sugars and salts and fats, right, just the stuff that makes up soy and corn would absorb into the chicken's body and that would enable muscle and fat to be built on the chicken's bones while our cell is consuming also, amino acids, sugars and salts. So, that's called developing the cell, developing the cell line. Then we put that developed cell line, sort of that process of how the cell line matches with the correct feed in a stainless-steel vessel.
Josh Tetrick 27:30
That creates conditions that enable the cells to grow. All I mean, by creating conditions for cells to grow is an optimal temperature around 70 or so degrees, a sterile environment. And over the course of about 14 days, the cell is doubling and doubling and doubling and doubling and doubling, and literally making meat without the need to slaughter, without the need to use all that land and all that water. By the way, about half our planet today is dedicated just to planting soy and corn to feed the animals we eat. So, after 14 days, we take the meat out. And when I say take the meat out, just imagine raw, unformed chicken. And then we can take that raw unformed chicken and we can make chicken nuggets out of it or chicken strips. We can't do bones yet. But we can do a lot. And we currently sell chicken. I'm planning to launch beef sometime before the, before the, the end of the year. So, that's from cell to finished product. Not conventionally produced but cultivated.
Sylvain Charlebois 28:31
So, what about a lot of people are listening in, probably they're wondering, oh, does this taste the same? What about the texture? What do you say to that? Is it similar to real chicken?
Josh Tetrick 28:44
Yeah, folks, the most common reaction when people you know, roll up to a butcher shop that sells it is this tastes like chicken? Am I missing something? And our answer is you're not missing anything. It tastes like chicken. Because this is a really important point for the audience.
Michael LeBlanc 28:56
Because it is chicken.
Josh Tetrick 28:58
Literally chicken. That's right. It's not trying to be chicken. It just is chicken, and you know, our chicken today or our beef today. There are all sorts of ways that, you know, companies, farmers have grown animals, right. There are different kinds of beef. There are different kinds of processes, from free range to, you know, more industrialization of the meat. It's still meat in you know, some ways are better than others. And we think ultimately, people I guess there are few sort of core truths that underlie why we do this in the first place.
Sylvain Charlebois 29:17
Josh Tetrick 29:18
The first and the most important is to listen, like if we keep meat in the way that we are right now. We're just gonna have a planet that's literally a farm for animals and to plant feed for animals, right, so we got to figure out a way to solve it. The problem is and the second truth is that people love meat. And you're only going to get a, you know, a percentage of people to be vegans or vegetarians.
Michael LeBlanc 30:07
Or plant-based, of course, right?
Josh Tetrick 30:08
Or plant-based, you're gonna get some. So, that sort of leads us to the conclusion of all right, given that, what if we meet people where they are, and we figure out a way to make meat that people do crave, but make it in a way that's just not so harmful? And that's what we do.
Sylvain Charlebois 30:26
So, in terms of because when I talk to farmers, when I talk to people in Canada, I travel across the country, Michael travels as well. I do talk about cultivating meat and the reaction that I get all the time. Well, I'm not interested in ta-, in tasting fake meat. And I say, like you said, Josh, it's not fake meat, It's chicken. It's just made differently. But you can see there is, there needs to be some sort of paradigm shift for sure how, with, with how people perceive that new technology, it's got to be a bit of a departure for sure.
Josh Tetrick 31:06
Yeah, I think a few things that you know, I think help are one is, you know, we're not doing this because we're really concerned about pasture raised chicken. That's not why we're doing this, 99% of the chicken, beef, pork, etc. is one, what one might call factory farmed, right. So, that's the bigger issue, not pasture raised stuff. And if you look at, look at a factory farmed or industrialized chicken, I mean, it looks nothing like the chicken from 100 years ago, breast heavy, much wider feathers, and it lives to 45 days. It's not what you might call natural in any respect, other than the fact you would call Berta a chicken. So, we should question what we think is a natural day, you know, first.
Josh Tetrick 31:42
And then this, the second is, the idea of making chicken in this way, is very strange, what I just described. And it's important that we don't pretend that it's, it sounds normal to everyone, the first time they hear it, it sounds kind of weird. A lot of things sounded weird in the beginning, and then you get used to it. And then, and then they're, you know, less weird. And if someone told me that a full self-driving car, you know, 10 years ago, that would sound pretty bizarre to me. But people get used to things and the most effective thing that we can do is be really open about the process, not try to hide the ball about it, and let people try it. And what we find often is, someone will come into a butcher shop, for example, and be like, this sounds really strange. They'll sit down, they'll sit down with their girlfriend, they'll sit down with their boyfriend, have a couple bites and be like, all right this tastes like chicken, all right what are we doing for the rest of the day? We're pretty quick. And we like that.
Sylvain Charlebois 33:04
Listen, let's talk a little bit about marketing. Because I've been looking at your website and your announcements, you're doing a lot of things. And a lot of it is very clever, like the avian flu campaign that you're running right now. I mean, it's, it's, we all know that the avian flu is really impacting the entire North American poultry industry. You took advantage of that by basically saying, You know what, our chicken doesn't fall, our products don't get sick. What's the reaction to your campaign so far?
Josh Tetrick 33:37
You know, avian flu, before I talk about the campaign. So, the leading cause of zoonotic disease, which just means diseases that could jump from a no-human animal like a chicken to a human animal, is the industrialization of animal production. COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease. So, avian flu is a zoonotic disease and you know, when you, when you, when you put a ho-, if we put, you know, me, you and 10 other people in an elevator, for a couple of weeks, Someone's probably going to get sick, unless you, you know, provide us a lot of snacks with lots of antibiotics, and even then someone might get sick and then the whole elevator is going to be sick. So, that's the way it is, with the current system of animal production offers, there's just a higher risk. So, our point in the campaign is just say, you know, that's not to deal with mung beans. You know, mung beans don't have a respiratory system that can pass the flu on to their other mung bean friends. And it's one of the many reasons why people should think about trying a plant-based version of chicken egg in addition to really important health reasons like the lower saturated fat content and the fact that it's free of cholesterol.
Sylvain Charlebois 35:01
You've actually signed on some celebrities, Lindsey Vonn, the Olympic skier, I believe she became an ambassador and investor last year as announced on your website. Your company is also involved with Serena Williams, the tennis player and Jake Gyllenhaal, the actor for, for the campaign. So, how, how do these connections work? How do you make them happen/
Josh Tetrick 35:30
We, we, we, we've gotten some advisors who are, you know, who hang out with fancy people. And we, yes, so they help to connect us, sometimes investors help to connect, sometimes we connect to these folks through their, their, their talent agency, and for us, it's, you know, changing both for cultivated meat and plant-based eggs. Again, it's important for us to remember, not everyone knows what the hell those two things are, right? So, you know, you've got to, you've got to recognize and put yourself in people's shoes and realize that, you know, folks like Serena Williams, the greatest female tennis player of all time, and Lindsey Vonn, first ever women's downhill gold medalist, they have an impact on people, people are watching and listening to how they're thinking about their own lives. And it's having an impact. So, it's just a part of us, a part of the deal to try to open up more eyes to the work that we're doing.
Sylvain Charlebois 36:35
That's great. Listen, we’re almost, we're out of time unfortunately. It's unfortunate. But we're gonna have to really end our conversation here. How can we learn more about your company? For people listening in who want to know more about your products, your company, things that are happening in the US and elsewhere? How do we, how can we find more information about your business?
Josh Tetrick 37:00
Yeah, for JUST Egg you go to j-u-, dot s-t, if you're into the whole plant-based egg thing, if you're into making meat without the need to slaughter an animal, you go to goodmeat.co.
Sylvain Charlebois 37:13
Well, listen, Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just, thank you so much for joining us today, in beautiful California, where it's very early. I hope you had coffee already, or if not, I hope you will have coffee soon. But I want to thank you very much on behalf of The Food Professor podcast. Joining us was a thrill. So, thank you so much for your time.
Josh Tetrick 37:37
Michael LeBlanc 37:38
So, Sylvain I was of course struck by the contrast between talking to the world's or Canada's largest farmer, and, and, and Josh, who's got such a vision for a very different way.
Sylvain Charlebois 37:56
Michael LeBlanc 37:57
I mean, we talked about, I remember we talked about this before, I didn't, I didn't connect the dots, but it was JUST Meat when we talked about Singapore wanting to be food independent and as a small island they're a leader in things such as this. Do you see a regulatory framework where this could be on Canadian shelves within the decade? What do you, how do you, how do you think about that?
Sylvain Charlebois 38:10
I don't know. I mean, the Canadian landscape is a little bit different. It's not that, we're no Singapore, and we're no, we're not the United States. But what I do know,
Michael LeBlanc 38:21
What do you mean by that? What do you mean, I get Singapore but what do you mean, we're not the United States? I would think, you know, the cattlemen and the agriculture lobby is pretty strong there. But what do you, what do you think?
Sylvain Charlebois 38:31
Well, I mean, you have to think up supply management, all the boards. I mean,
Michael LeBlanc 38:38
Oh, I see.
Sylvain Charlebois 38:39
They have a lot of say, when, when you look at the animal protein market in Canada, our regime is very different from the US. You know. So, do you think that we're going to be approving cultured chicken in Canada anytime soon? We're talking, we're talking about poultry here. And poultry supply managed in Canada, (crossover talk).
Michael LeBlanc 38:59
Hard doing that. I mean, it's interesting, because as well, we haven't talked about it on this show in a little bit, but it's kind of it's very present is, is, is the challenges the poultry industry is going through now. Even in the egg industry, there's a shortage of eggs, (crossover talk) with the avian flu and we mentioned it briefly, but they ran a campaign about, you know, no avian flu here. Basically, they all come from mung beans. So, I thought that was opportunistic and clever, but it also kind of brings home a little bit of a point around. It's a bit of a moment for their plant-based product, but also just so interesting around their, (crossover talk) growing products.
Sylvain Charlebois 39:33
And frankly, the avian flu. That's why I asked Josh about the avian flu campaign because I'm not sure it would resonate the same way in Canada because when you look at the data in Canada related to the avian flu versus the US, we actually are doing much better in Canada and let's face it, it's because of how vertically coordinated our industry is. The egg industry in Canada is very strong, because of that very strong vertical coordination that we have. Well, we talked about Margaret Hudson a few months ago. I mean, the system that we have is very strong due to supply management in our quota system.
Michael LeBlanc 40:12
Well, they have a year to set it up. I don't know how you felt about, about, about the announcement. I think it's what I saw, what I saw was a lot of wait and see sort of attitude. People were saying, well, let's, let's see about compliance. Let's see how things work. And I don't know, do you feel? Do you feel that we're going in the right direction here?
Sylvain Charlebois 40:41
Yeah. And being great farmers behind the system as well.
Michael LeBlanc 40:45
So interesting. Well, let's wrap up with a couple things. First of all, there was an announcement made about the code of conduct, but we really didn't get much insight into it. That's, is that fair? And now, now, if I think about what the announcement was, basically, we're gonna have one by the end of the year, have I got that, right, what, what was your read of this? I think so. I mean, everyone seems to be rowing in the same direction, so to speak. But I don't feel very informed about it yet.
Sylvain Charlebois 41:04
Michael LeBlanc 41:05
So, it does seem like it's moving forward, whatever that means. I think it's going to be a topic for us to discuss both in this season and the next. Really, it's going to be a pretty big topic. So, I don't, I don't know have much,
Sylvain Charlebois 41:23
What's the most important thing is that there's dialogue between retailers and processors. And that dialogue continues. And that's what I'm seeing so far. So,
Michael LeBlanc 41:32
All right. Well, that's, that's good. Speaking of dialogue, our elected officials are getting back on the floor, Parliament's back next week. And we wanted to soccer, I wanted to ask you about Bill C-252, which is food advertising to children? What, is that bill, that bill has been in the works for many, many years? Is this a voting time? What's the status of discussions on the bill?
Sylvain Charlebois 41:55
Well, it's actually there, there are going to be some meetings held by the Standing Committee on health over the next little while for the next session. And so, we didn't hear much about Bill C-252. I expect I will hear more about it, it's really much about marketing to children, marketing food to children. And Quebec has actually done a very good job over the years managing that space and, and now we have a code across the country, which will be implemented, I believe, in the summer. So, all that work was done in order to protect children. And now, the bill itself, that was presented by a private member, is likely going to make things a little bit more complicated. And frankly, I think it is more costly. So, there's going to be, I think there's gonna be a lot of debate around. I think everyone agrees that we need to protect our children. It's how we do it. And I think there's going to be a lot of discussion about that.
Michael LeBlanc 43:01
You know, I always think back to my growing up and all the cartoons that were basically created to sell cereal to kids in the morning, right. I mean, when you think about and you look at it now it's almost a little shocking, really,
Sylvain Charlebois 43:12
Michael LeBlanc 43:13
You know, when,
Sylvain Charlebois 43:15
Michael LeBlanc 43:16
The amount of sugar you, you're inhaling because it's, (crossover talk.)
Sylvain Charlebois 43:18
Remember we were all after that toy in the cereal box.
Michael LeBlanc 43:22
I know man, it's, it's crazy when, (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 43:27
Nice surprise, yeah.
Michael LeBlanc 43:29
It's crazy when you think about it. Now, we haven't talked about, what we haven't talked about lately, is the work you're doing in the lab. So, what's, what's on the, what's on the slab, so to speak, the research slab for the lab?
Sylvain Charlebois 43:40
Well, I mean, I've been, I've been focusing on my book, I've been writing every day. My next book on the geopolitics of food essentially. It's actually probably the easiest book I will ever write. It's our, it's my eighth book. (Inaudible) I mean, we, Ukraine, Russia, India. We're gonna have Shabnam Weber from, from the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada coming on in a couple of weeks and, (crossover talk).
Michael LeBlanc 43:52
Sylvain Charlebois 43:54
She's really much in the middle of the geopolitics of food. And so, it's a very easy topic to write about. So, I'm working on that, but we are going to be releasing some, some reports over the next little while. Our next one is going to be on the cashless economy how, (crossover talk) people at the grocery store and, and so we're, we're looking at privacy issues, we're looking at cleanliness and public health, we're looking at, at even some people think that you know going cashless may be discriminatory because some people use cash only.
Michael LeBlanc 44:46
Well, there's and I know something of this because there was some, a lot of discussion around a couple of years ago the Amazon Go stores you know, the shop at just walk out technology and they were completely cashless and you know, there's, there's like a million unbanked Canadians. And then there's a lot of people and so in New York State, they passed some laws that you have to accept cash. So, they started to try and legislate it. Now, I just got back from New York City and spent a week in New York at a big conference. And many, many stores are cashless, not grocery stores necessarily but, but even Amazon Go is accepting cash. Oh, by the way, I should mention to the listeners if you're hearing the sound of my voice, and it sounds a little different, I'm, I'm on tour a little bit here. I'm in Aloha, I am in the wonderful city, (crossover talk) in Maui for a board meeting for an association that I sit on in retail technologists and it's a bit of a hardship, you know, got to come to Maui, serve on a board, you know, you must serve. So, that is actually,
Sylvain Charlebois 45:36
Tough gig, tough gig.
Michael LeBlanc 45:38
It's you know, for the listeners, we usually record this in the morning. And of course, here it's five hours earlier. So, I am up bright and it's not bright, actually very, (crossover talk).
Sylvain Charlebois 45:44
I can barely see you.
Michael LeBlanc 45:48
And that is the sound of the ocean waves too (inaudible), or at least to calm everyone as we, as we wrap up this episode.
Sylvain Charlebois 45:51
Michael LeBlanc 45:53
We'll be able to talk about that next episode, the cashless economy at the grocery store that would be published by then.
Sylvain Charlebois 46:15
Probably I'm still wor-, we're still working with the data. So, (crossover talk).
Michael LeBlanc 46:20
So, maybe, maybe not.
Sylvain Charlebois 46:23
I am hoping that we'll be able to do that. Yeah. And you'll be back from Maui or are you I think you're going to be somewhere else, aren't you?
Michael LeBlanc 46:26
I will be back but then quickly off to LA. So, it's (crossover talk) a fair bit of traveling but always here for the listeners and always here for you. I Appreciate you my friend and listen, for those of you who are listening to the podcast, thanks so much for listening. Again, the listenership continues to grow so be sure and tell your friends and colleagues in the grocery food service and retail industry, retail food industry. I'm Michael LeBlanc, Consumer Growth Consultant and podcaster and you are?
Sylvain Charlebois 46:54
I'm The Food Professor Sylvain Charlebois. And Michael, I wish you all the best and safe travels to you.
Michael LeBlanc 47:01
All right, well, thank you my friend. I look forward to touching base again soon.
And everybody safe travels to all the listeners.
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