More cell-cultured chicken products approved for sale in Singapore

Good Meat's cell-cultured chicken breast has been approved for consumption in Singapore. PHOTO: GOOD MEAT

SINGAPORE - Alternative-protein lovers have something new to “peck” at, after Singapore on Thursday (Dec 16) approved the sale of more cultivated meat products.

The move comes a year after it became the world’s first country to allow meat without slaughter to be sold. Californian start-up Eat Just’s Good Meat division received approval last December from the Singapore Food Agency to sell bite-sized chicken nuggets that were created by culturing animal cells.

They were sold at 1880 Singapore, a social club at InterContinental Singapore.

On Thursday, the company received approval to sell new types of cultivated chicken products, including chicken breast, from next year. 

A private tasting session will first be held at JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach next week.

Next year, the chicken breast will also be made available at some hawker centre stalls, including Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice in Tiong Bahru.

Good Meat has committed to increasing its investment to produce cultivated meat in Singapore, including in the design and manufacture of equipment and systems, with a target for operation within the next two years.

On setting up in the Republic, a spokesman for Eat Just said: “Singapore is the most forward-thinking country in the world when it comes to building smart, sustainable food systems - from the Economic Development Board to the regulatory framework to its citizens.”

It added that its chicken bites, which were sold at 1880, received a favourable response from the public. 

Thursday’s approval is part of Singapore’s aims to produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.

Alternative proteins are considered more sustainable than traditional meat products, as large volumes of plant-based or cell-cultured foods can be produced involving less land and labour.

More firms here are entering the emerging field of alternative proteins amid growing global consciousness about the carbon footprint of rearing livestock for food, which produces about 15 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Over the past two years, more than 15 alternative-protein start-ups have set up base in Singapore, The Straits Times reported in April this year.

The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment said last year that there could be 55,000 new and upgraded jobs in the green economy over the next decade, with agri-tech being one of the key sectors.

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With the ramping up of production in the next two years, Good Meat expects to hire more engineers, scientists and other manufacturing professionals to run its facility and expand its business.

The Eat Just spokesman added that consumers can expect different formats of chicken to be offered soon, including breasts and strips. Beef and other types of meat will come further in the future.

Ms Natalie Tan, who is an officer cadet, said she is excited to try the cell-cultured meat now that it is finally accessible to the public. 

“I’ve been wanting to try the chicken bites at 1880, but it was exclusive to the private club. It will be interesting to see how the meat will taste in dishes like chicken rice,” said the 25-year-old, who is a vegan.

“One thing I’m worried about, though, is the price point, since it is manufactured in a lab. Hopefully, the meat will still be affordable to the public when it is sold in hawker stalls,” she added.

Ms Lorraine Tan, a 24-year-old recruiter, said she would feel squeamish initially but added: “If no one told me it was lab-grown, I would probably eat it and not be able to tell the difference.”

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