Saturday, December 2, 2023

Upside selects Chicago area for its first large-scale cultivated meat plant

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BERKELEY, Calif. — Upside Foods has selected the greater Chicagoland region for its first large-scale cultivated meat production plant. The 187,000 square foot plant, based in Glenview, Ill., will start by producing ground cultivated chicken products, with plans to expand to other species and whole-textured formats in the future.

With an initial capacity to produce millions of pounds of cultivated meat products per year and the potential to expand to more than 30 million pounds, the plant represents a significant step forward in achieving the company’s vision of creating a more humane, sustainable, and resilient food system, the company said.

“On behalf of the State of Illinois, we are excited to welcome Upside Foods to the Land of Lincoln and are committed to supporting their growth in the cultivated meat industry,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. “Here in Illinois, we are a hub for tech and innovation, thanks to our talented workforce and prime location in the heart of the Midwest. This new facility is a significant investment in our communities — creating new good-paying jobs while advancing our ambitious clean energy goals to create a more sustainable future. We also congratulate UPSIDE Foods on their recent milestone of being the inaugural company to commercially sell cultivated meat in the United States. Their pioneering leadership makes them a perfect fit for the region.”

The state-of-the-art plant, designed to house cultivators with capacities of up to 100,000 liters, will stand as one of the world’s largest and most advanced commercial cultivated meat facilities, the company added. Building upon the knowledge gained from Upside’s Engineering, Production, and Innovation Center (EPIC) in California, Upside’s new plant will cultivate meat at commercial scales and serve as a guiding force for the company’s future endeavors in scaling up its operations to the next level.

“We’re excited that the next chapter of our journey towards building a more sustainable, humane, and abundant future will be in Illinois,” said Dr. Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of Upside Foods. “Establishing our plant in this region allows us to tap into a remarkable talent pool, a thriving innovation ecosystem, and a notable history of meat production. We are grateful for the collaboration and partnership that we have built at the state, county, and local levels in our site selection process.”

The company notes that its selection of Glenview was driven by the region’s esteemed legacy in meat production, a shared commitment to innovation and sustainability, and strategic geographical advantages. Located at major transportation crossroads, the plant will serve as an ideal hub for large-scale production, distribution, and sale of cultivated meat products.

Following its acquisition of Wisconsin-based cultivated seafood company Cultured Decadence, Upside Foods is furthering its commitment to the Midwest with a planned investment of more than $140 million in the region, along with the creation of more than 75 new jobs, from warehousing and logistics positions to bioprocessing and food production, as well as other commercial functions.

“We are proud to partner with Upside Foods as they make the strategic decision to harness the unparalleled strengths of the greater Chicagoland region,” said Kyle Schulz, executive vice president, World Business Chicago. “Their groundbreaking work in growing meat, poultry, and seafood directly from animal cells aligns with our region’s commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the future of food. We are excited to support Upside Foods in their journey and work together to promote the greater Chicagoland region as a hub for innovative and sustainable solutions that address the challenges of our time and continue the Chicagoland legacy in protein production.”

Upside has selected Jacobs as its design and manufacturing partner for its facility.

“Jacobs has extensive experience working with disruptive, innovative partners,” said Bob Pragada, CEO of Jacobs. “This project aligns with our Boldly Moving Forward strategy in challenging the status quo in the food industry. The meat industry is water- and land-intensive and a significant source of greenhouse gases, and yet global demand for meat continues to grow. This facility will enable Upside to produce cultivated meat at a commercial scale, a key milestone in the company’s mission to create a more humane, sustainable and resilient food system.”

Upside selected the name “Rubicon” for its first large-scale cultivated meat production plant with an appreciation for its historical significance as a point of no return. The company added that this choice reflects its commitment to redefine the future of food.

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