Tag: Cultured Fish

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Is Cultured Meat Commercially Viable?

Cultured Meat is attracting more and more interest from investors and consumers alike. Ever since Singapore became the first country to give regulatory approval for cultured chicken meat in December 2020, debate over the novel cellular agriculture technology has shifted from questions of feasibility to discussion of the industry’s commercial viability. Now, cultured meat pioneer Mosa Meat has responded to critics.


Mosa Meat, the first company to present a prototype hamburger patty made from cultured beef eight years ago, on 10 November 2021 published a blog post in response to critical media reports that questioned whether the technology of producing meat from animal cells in bioreactors could ever become commercially sustainable.

Commercialization of cultured meat ‘not inevitable’

While agreeing that a cultured meat (CM) breakthrough on a commercial scale was not inevitable, the Dutch industry pioneers analyzed the critical points raised by media commentary into five main issues – concerns around growth media, critiques of lifecycle and techno-economic analyses, scalability of hardware and production facilities, open-source science versus private research, and the role of investors – and laid out their case that each of these potential barriers can be overcome.

Growth media

Regarding growth media, the key issues are the ethics of extracting fetal bovine serum (FBS) and the price of nutrients. Mosa Meat noted that alternatives to FBS are available for growing both muscle and fat tissues, and that its own animal-free serum is equally effective or better as FBS while also becoming progressively cheaper. While the firm acknowledged legitimate concerns over the ability to create a supply chain for pharma-grade nutrients at the levels needed to bring down prices and enable economies of scale, it pointed out that industry R&D efforts are underway to develop alternatives. Already, food-grade protein hydrolysates and feed-grade glucose have been shown to be effective nutrients.

Techno-Economic Analyses

Responding to criticism of Techno-Economic Analyses (TEA) and lifecycle analyses of CM, including the TEA by CE Delft published in February 2021, Mosa Meat conceded that economies of scale for cell production have not yet been achieved and that predictions on mass production of animal cells remain difficult. On the other hand, the CM industry is geared towards maximizing cell production and minimizing use of growth medium or recycling it, while the business model of the conventional biopharma industry (with which the CM industry was unfavorably compared) prioritizes secretion over biomass in the cell lines it cultivates. “While the base technologies of our two industries are similar, the production processes have divergent motivations and any modeling drawing comparisons need to take that into account,” the authors wrote.

Scaling up cultured meat production

In the area of hardware and production scalability, potential obstacles include the need to prevent contamination and the costs of production facilities as well as growth media. Mosa Meat argued that with appropriate facilities with compartmentalized stages meeting different industry standards, the risk of contamination can be managed. Comparing the industry production capacity required to cover all current meat consumption to that of global wine industry, Mosa Meat argued that the basic volume of bioreactors for CM should be 300m3 for 750,000 kg per year output. Production facilities on this scale, combined with optimized production processes and a fully developed value chain, can make commercial scale-up achievable, though it will take a decade or more, the authors wrote.

Open-source vs. private research

Responding to concerns that the prevalence of privately funded corporate research and unwillingness to share proprietary know-how could slow down or impede the commercialization of CM, Mosa Meat pointed out that it shares research and other insights with the industry at conferences and in publications. The authors encouraged other actors to follow suit in the interest of advancing the industry as a whole. As the cellular agriculture sector continues to grow, more and more public funding is also being made available, including by public authorities in the US, Iceland, Norway, Korea, Japan, the EU, Singapore, and Australia.

Silicon Valley or bust?

Is the CM sector, as some critics have alleged, a high-stakes casino for investors and venture capital firms from Silicon Valley seeking short-term gains? Mosa Meat cited the growing role of Series B investors who are now backing many major industry players. Their involvement showed there is now a broad funding base available for successful market actors, supported by rigorous due diligence on the part of investors seeking long-term sustainable engagement rather than quick profits, the authors argued: “The size and caliber of the companies that have now begun investing in cultivated meat gives a clear signal about the perceived viability of cellular agriculture. Many of these investors are also potential value chain partners that bring to the table expertise and strategic partnerships to help the industry commercialize more efficiently. It would be unfair and inaccurate to characterize them as uninformed or naive.”

In conclusion, Mosa Meat acknowledged that barriers remained to be overcome, including through open debate and exchange of viewpoints. “There is a natural tension between needing to generate excitement in order to raise funding and not overpromising on important milestones,” the authors wrote. As such, they called for “robust and open dialogue about the development of our beef” and announced that Mosa Meat’s co-founder and CM pioneer Mark Post would discuss the feasibility of CM at a panel with David Humbird, one of the industry’s most vocal critics, at the 7th International Scientific Conference on Cultured Meat, which runs from 29 November to 1 December 2021.

[Source]

To learn more about cultured meat and its prospects for commercialization, read our dynamic report Supertrends in Cultured Meat.

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BlueNalu nets new funding for cell-based seafood products

Lou Cooperhouse, BlueNalu’s President + CEO, standing in front of their headquarters and pilot food production facility in San Diego; Photo Courtesy of BlueNalu

With a new round of funding secured, the California-based company aims to make the first products available to US diners in the near future.

BlueNalu, a US provider of cell-based seafood cultured in bioreactors, announced last week that it had recently secured US$60 million in financing. This comes in addition to the financing round of US$20 million announced in early 2020. “This will help us finance our work until the next milestone, allowing us to get our pilot facility completed and equipped, and the documentation in place to meet the requirements of the FDA,” said President and CEO Lou Cooperhouse. “As soon as we have met both of these requirements, we will be able to launch our first product to restaurants in the US.”

Speaking at an online event, Cooperhouse touted the potential of cell-based seafood compared to traditional fishing and aquaculture. Wild fishery is lagging due to depleted stocks, and aquaculture is struggling to make up for those shortfalls, he noted, adding that provisions of fish and seafood are highly vulnerable due to their globe-spanning supply chains (the US, for instance, imports 90 percent of its seafood). Not only does the industry have a devastating impact on animal stocks, coral reefs, and other oceanic ecosystems, but the product yield in restaurants is only 50 to 60 percent due to losses or spoilage in transport and the fact that many animal parts such as fins, tails, bones, or skin are discarded.

“This highly inefficient approach leads to variations in supplies, quality, and freshness of products,” said Cooperhouse. “Our cell-based product can be 100 percent local, with an environmental footprint that will be transformative for the entire global supply chain.” The ability to make seafood in close proximity to consumers in a bioreactor also means that the products can be demand-driven and responsive to the wishes of the customers, rather than being supply-restricted and determined by what catch is available on any given day.

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BlueNalu’s whole-muscle, cell-based yellowtail prepared in four different recipes (clockwise from top left): roasted butternut squash & yellowtail bisque, poke bowl, fish taco, and kimchi; Photo courtesy of BlueNalu

BlueNalu has already developed well over 100 stable cell lines for mahi mahi, bluefin tuna, red snapper, and other fish species, with more planned for the future. The company’s goal is to complete its pilot facility in San Diego and have limited amounts of product commercially available over the next year, with full-scale commercialization a realistic prospect in the not-too-distant future.

“The BlueNalu team has done a stellar job with each step of the growth process,” said Chuck Laue, a board member and investor in BlueNalu and founder and chair of Stray Dog Capital.They have assembled a highly capable and mission-driven team with experience in myriad disciplines, and they are going to change the way the world consumes seafood. They are using science, technology, engineering and innovation to protect our planet. I’m excited and honored to participate in such an important venture.”

While the nascent cell-based meat industry in the US is experiencing a great deal of pushback from the strong lobby of traditional beef, pork, and chicken producers, Cooperhouse notes that there has been less opposition from the seafood industry. “We do not expect as much competition from the US fishing industry because we are targeting species that are typically imported from overseas, illegally fished, or have a high mercury content,” he says. “We see ourselves as working with existing players, and complementing our global supply chain of seafood, rather than being in competition.” Ultimately, he anticipates that there will be three ways of sourcing fish and seafood – from wild catch, conventional aquaculture, and cellular aquaculture via cell-based processes.


At Supertrends, we are co-creating the future – and you can be a part of it

A growing number of companies are striving to bring cell-based food to consumers, including cultured meat as well as fish and seafood. When do you think the first cell-based seafood will be available in restaurants? When will the first large-scale bioreactors be operational? How long before regulators approve cell-based animal muscle for human consumption in the US? Visit the Supertrends App and make your own predictions! Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2021 Supertrends

The vegan lady who runs a cultured fish firm

Carrie Chan is the CEO of Avant Meats and is currently developing its first cultured fish, a cell cultivated fish maw bites as an ingredient in a snack.

Cultured fish products as a response to overfishing

Carrie Chan chose to be a vegan because she believes that the way we produce animal meat is not efficient and causes a lot of environmental issues. However, she knows that people do like eating meat. When she founded Avant Meats, she says, the main consideration on her mind was that there had to be a better way of solving this problem. “When we started, people asked: ‘What meat are you going to make?’ We wanted to produce marine protein coming from fish.” Based in Hong Kong, Chan knows only too well how much damage overfishing has done, pushing many fish species to the verge of extinction.

In addition to being a passionate environmentalist, Chan is also an experienced business leader. Fish maw is the first product that Avant Meats is targeting due to its simple cellular component and higher market price. The company already conducted its first successful tasting event in October 2019. The next targets are to produce fish cake, fish fillet, and small chunks of fish, the prototype of which will be launched this year.

Challenges for the market entry of cultured fish

The technique of cultured fish is not very different to other types of cultured meat, according to Chan. She is confident that the company will soon clear the biggest hurdle of getting cultured fish on the market, which is the cost:


“We are focusing on reducing our cost by as much as 90% within 12 months, and 97% in 18 months. At the same time, we will scale up our bioreactors for bigger capacity. We expect to start selling our cultured fish protein pilot product soon to help us understand consumer needs and improve certain product parameters.” Carrie Chan


Chan also has plans to make her fish protein more nourishing the will contain more collagen, Omega3, and other functional nutrients that benefit skin health and wound healing.

By developing a novel way to produce animal products, Chan may indeed have found a better way to save marine species. Visit the Supertrends App and search for ‘cultured fish’ to find out by which year Chan plans to make her fish product available on the market. Not an App user yet? Visit the Supertrends Pro – page to learn about your benefits and request a trial – for free!

© 2020 Supertrends

 

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