Just, the US vegan food business, is aiming to bring a slaughter-free chicken product to market this year.

The California company, formerly known as Hampton Creek, is looking to launch a lab grown, or cultured, chicken bite with fried chicken skin.

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Some reports have suggested it will be targeted at foodservice clients in Asia initially but the company told just-food “we have not disclosed where we intend to conduct the sale”.

Just founder Josh Tetrick confirmed that the product is on its way in a Tweet dated yesterday (17 October) which read: “Four hundred thousand years ago, meat became part of the human diet, and throughout time, human beings have needed to kill the animal to enjoy their meat. First, with spears. Then, with industrial machines. Get ready for that paradigm to change. #justchicken.”

It was accompanied by an image of a spear piercing a chicken nugget.

The previous day Tetrick Tweeted (without comment) an image of a chicken nugget-type product.

Just’s new product will be made from cells taken from a live chicken and developed in a lab.

The company has already launched a number of meat- and dairy-free products including Just Mayo and Just Egg, the latter product being made from mung beans and sold in the US and Asia.

Earlier this month, the UK’s BBC visited Just’s San Francisco headquarters and its reporter tasted chicken nuggets grown from the cells of a chicken feather.

It reported the chicken it came from was still alive, reportedly roaming on a farm not far from the laboratory.

The BBC report said it takes about two days to produce a chicken nugget in a small bioreactor “using a protein to encourage the cells to multiply, some type of scaffold to give structure to the product and a culture, or growth, medium to feed the meat as it develops”.

Just told just-food that: “Subject to regulatory considerations, Just aims to make our first small commercial sale of a real meat product made from cells instead of live animals by the end of 2018.” 

It added: “While we’re exploring a range of cell lines from different species, our first release will be in the avian family, likely a chicken-based product.”

Last month, Just linked up with venture accelerator specialist Brinc in Asia.