JUST Meat or Just “Meat”?

JUST, Inc. is a company based in San Francisco, California looking to revolutionize the food manufacturing industry. The company aims to produce “clean meat.” This type of meat does not require farming, massive slaughterhouses or abundant amounts of animal feed for food growth. Instead, JUST, Inc. is perfecting a technology that allows for the extraction of animal DNA from any one of its cells. This DNA is then replicated in a petri dish and animal muscle is grown. For example, a chicken’s DNA sequence can be extracted from a single feather, introduced into a petri dish and chicken meat can be grown. Theoretically, as this video shows, you could be eating the meat of a chicken while looking at the live chicken (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GgP6jo5DTM).

JUST, Inc. uses highly advanced technology like DNA extraction methods and machine learning to perfect their product line. For now, it appears that their cost of production is relatively high when compared to the traditional food manufacturing methods. However, just as phones have become more advanced yet cheaper over time, it seems inevitable that clean meat will be competitively priced with traditional meat within the near future.

Of course, not all market participants are excited for this new type of technology. Namely, the United States Cattlemen’s Association has filed a petition with the USDA to fight back against JUST, Inc. and other similar companies. The petition calls to specify that “beef” and “meat” exclude any products that “are neither derived from animals, nor slaughtered in the traditional manner” (https://reason.com/reasontv/2018/04/26/just-lab-grown-clean-meat-tetrick). It appears that the federal government has the ability to determine whether or not the meat market will include JUST meat or just “meat.”

When the American Egg Board learned of the Just Mayo product, it did not go over-easy with them. In fact, members of the Egg Board even threatened to put a “hit” on the CEO of JUST, Inc. When confronted about the matter, members of the board said that they were merely joking.

JUST, Inc. and other companies have the potential to revolutionize the food manufacturing industry. Of course, they will have to overcome large interest groups and the federal government in order to do so. Perhaps instead of focusing on the interest groups’ inability to adjust to market trends (which is indeed a valid criticism), perhaps there is a conversation to be had about the overreaching governmental powers within the marketplace.

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