Cell-based meat companies Integriculture and Shiok Meats announced this week that they have officially entered into a collaboration to scale up production of the latter’s cell-based shrimp, according to Vegconomist.
For the partnership, Integriculture will provide its CultNet System, which allows other businesses to culture their own animal tissues. In this case, Shiok Meats will use the CultNet System to create shrimp cell cultures. Doing so would bring the overall cost of producing lab-grown shrimp down because the system doesn’t require animal serums, which are extremely expensive, not to mention controversial.
Dr. Sandhya Sriram, co-founder of Shiok Meats, told Vegconomist that at this point, most cell-ag companies are looking for alternatives to serum, as animal serums are “neither ethical nor sustainable.”
IntegriCulture’s CultNet System lets cell-based meat produce bypass animal serums altogether. (This democratization of meat production is one of the reasons the company landed on our Food Tech 25 list for this year.)
Unfortunately, your average consumer won’t be able to taste this cell-based shrimp yet. The companies did not give a timeline for this cell-based shrimp, and cell-based meat in general is still some time away from landing in the consumer market. IntegriCulture has said it will launch its first product, a cell-based foie gras, in 2021. Shiok Meats did its first public taste testing, of its cell-based shrimp dumplings in the spring of 2019, but the company is still most likely three to five years out from commercializing anything.
The cultured meat and cell-ag space overall has seen much activity of late in terms of both new funding and expanding production. Memphis Meats raised $161 million at the beginning of 2020, doubling global investment in cultured meat. BlueNalu announced in June it will expand its facilities to bring cell-based seafood to test markets. Both Turtle Tree Labs and BIOMILQ have raised money for their cultured human breastmilk.
While we’re still a ways away from grabbing cell-based meat off our grocery store shelves (or growing it at home), the flurry of new developments and funding news in this space make clear that cell-based ag is less the stuff science fiction now and inching closer to reality.