As a long-time food industry exec, BlueNalu President and CEO Lou Cooperhouse knew there were established food industry techniques his company could borrow from when building cell-based seafood.
“It’s a much bigger toolbox,” said Cooperhouse. “You can embrace some of the technologies that industry uses, and create a product that absolutely can meet the sensory expectations and experiences of fish, which will be much more challenging on the meat side.”
One of the tools from the food industry toolbox, according to Cooperhouse, is layering.
“The concept of layering plays itself very nicely with the food industry,” said Cooperhouse. “There’s extrusion technologies, there’s folding technologies and there’s lamination technologies like in packaging.”
But while BlueNalu was able to leverage some of the technologies and processes from the food industry, the company had a much smaller set of knowledge to borrow from when it comes to replicating fish cells. That’s because the vast majority of work in the cell-based meat space has been done with mammal cells, while fish cell replication for human consumption was largely unchartered waters.
“There was little to no intellectual property around anybody ever growing and propagating successfully stable cell lines of fish,” said Cooperhouse. “So we began with a clean piece of paper on the technology side.”
And so BlueNalu set about to build a set of IP to create cell-based fish products, which Cooperhouse describes as an “end game” of a “product that has the same nutritional, functional, and sensory characteristics as seafood.”
Three years later, the company is ready to move to pilot production with the goal of creating up to 500 pounds of fish per week in its new pilot production plant it has started building in San Diego.
If you want to hear about Lou’s story and how he went from concept to pilot production of cell-based seafood, you won’t want to miss this podcast. You can hear my full conversation with Lou Cooperhouse, and all of our podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts, or by clicking play below.