Japanese Wagyu Ranch Partners with Lab-Grown Meat Company

A third generation ranch in Japan that specializes in Wagyu genetics is partnering with a California-based lab-grown meat startup. ( Bloomberg )

A renowned ranch in Japan known for its Wagyu genetics has partnered with a cell-cultured meat company in California to create lab-grown Wagyu beef.

Toriyama Ranch and JUST, Inc. made an official announcement earlier in December of the first of its kind partnership for a farm to provide genetic material to a cell-cultured meat company. Cells from Wagyu beef steaks and even cattle provided by Toriyama Ranch will be made exclusively available to JUST.

The plan is to start out with cell-cultured Wagyu ground beef hamburgers that can be marketed to a wider audience.

“The point is to deliver deliciousness to everyone,” says Wataru Toriyama, owner of the Toriyama Ranch and vice-president of the Toriyama Farming and Food Co., Ltd.

Toriyama Ranch is family owned and has been breeding Wagyu cattle in Japan for three generations.

San Francisco-based JUST, formerly known as Hampton Creek, is a food manufacturing startup that has created such products as eggless-mayonnaise and plant-based egg alternatives.

“We’re gonna make a damn burger and it’s going to taste like a Wagyu burger from Japan,” says Josh Tetrick, CEO of JUST.

Also partnering in the deal is meat and seafood exporter Awano Food Group.

“I’ve been in the meat industry for 30 years now,” says Awano executive Rod Martin. “I think JUST’s way of thinking about the products of the future is how the world will consume protein within 20 years.”

The topic of lab-grown meat has been somewhat controversial in the U.S. with large meat packers like Cargill and Tyson Foods owning shares in cell-cultured meat businesses. There has also been a debate on what to call the emerging products and what regulatory agencies should enforce the production of cell-cultured or “fake meat.”

For more on plant-based and lab-grown meat read the following stories: