Israeli cell-based meat company Aleph Farms has joined forces with Asia-based food heavyweights Thai Union Group and CJ CheilJedang in a move it hopes will speed-up the launch of its lab-grown products.

It has signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Thailand’s Thai Union and CJ CheilJedang of South Korea, following an earlier agreement signed with Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. Thai Union is already an investor in Aleph Farms. The seafood giant took part in a Series B funding round in July.

Aleph Farms said “as part of these agreements, Thai Union and CJ CheilJedang will help to accelerate Aleph’s scale-up, go-to-market activities and elevate distribution of cultivated meat in existing marketing channels across the APAC region”.

Singapore is likely to be the launch pad for Aleph Farms’ products, the company indicated. The city-state is the first country in the world to approve cultivated meat – from US firm Eat Just and to offer it on a restaurant menu.

Aleph Farms told Just Food it is planning an initial market launch there by the end of 2022 and that its first commercially-available product is likely to be thin-cut steak.

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Speaking about the newly-signed MOUs, Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, said: “We are excited to partner with key players in the Asia market and establish a new category of meat products to address increasing consumption in the region.

“We carefully consider partnerships that reflect our core values and sustainability commitments and both Thai Union and CJ share our resolutions for achieving carbon-neutrality and enhancing food security for all people of Asia and around the world.”

Sze Cotte Tan, chief technology officer of food R&D at CJ CheilJedang, said: “We are highly excited to deepen the relationship with Aleph Farms to explore the market potential of alternative beef produced from cultured cells. We are at the forefront of a trend in Asia’s food industry as Asian consumers show increasing interest in alternative proteins, and we have the opportunity to lead consumption patterns toward a more sustainable, resilient future that benefits all of Asia and the world.”

Thiraphong Chansiri, president and CEO of Thai Union, said: “Following our investment, we are excited to work with Aleph Farms, which is already well known for its technological advancement and strong commitment to sustainability, to further explore collaboration opportunities in Asia.”

Thai Union has other investments in alternative proteins. In January, the company announced it had backed BlueNalu, a US firm developing cell-based seafood