March 19, 2020

 

Shiok Meats creates sustainable seafood from stem cells

 

 

Start-up Shiok Meats, founded by scientists Sandhya Sriram and Ka Yi Ling, is developing cell-based shrimp and seafood, as part of a growing global revolution in protein production.

 

At a laboratory in Singapore, researchers are working on a technology with the potential to disrupt the massive—and unsustainable—global shrimp industry. Cellular agriculture is billed as the future of food, as industries seek ways to reduce their reliance on factory farming.

 

"There are plant-based seafood companies, but they use plants to make artificial seafood, while we use stem cells to make real seafood meats," says Sriram. "We do not support terms like 'artificial', 'fake' or 'lab-grown'."
 

She says sustainability is a major advantage of the cultivated meat industry, but not the only one. "It's also clean and there's no antibiotics, heavy metals, microplastics or animal cruelty."

 

The company aims to begin selling its first product, a cell-based shrimp dumpling, in Singapore by the end of next year, and has plans to expand to Hong Kong, India and Australia.

 

"Minced shrimp is a big market so we are working on that first," says Sriram. The stem cells are extracted from locally farmed, antibiotic-free shrimps.

 

She says the response from the food industry has so far been "great and overwhelming", with positive feedback for a shrimp dumpling tasting that was held last year at Singapore's Disruption in Food & Sustainability Summit.

 

The next big step, she says, is reducing costs—an issue faced by many start-ups working in the cultivated meat sector.