From plant-based to cell-based: sustainable seafood alternatives of the future

By: Gillian Parker

Innovation in food science is paving the way for consumers looking for a product with a resemblance as close to meat and fish as possible without the environmental footprint.

Now, Singapore-based start-up Shiok Meats is racing to bring to market cultivated seafood. Currently, it is the first in the world to use cellular agriculture technology to produce crustaceans like shrimps, crabs and lobsters.

A needle biopsy’s worth of muscle cells is extracted from a single live animal. The cells are cultivated in a bioreactor tank and fed a cocktail of liquid nutrients that help convert cells into muscle, fat and connective tissue. Sheets of muscle tissue can be cut into filets or ground for ‘seafood’ dishes. Unlike the real thing, this lab grown wizardry will not produce the eyes, legs and heads.

The innovation has piqued the interest of venture capitalists who are lured by the significant opportunity alternative seafood presents. Impact investors and family offices are also participating in the alternative seafood sector to contribute to conservation efforts, while delivering financial returns.

The turning tide of consumer choice is courting the attention of corporates who have the ability to produce plant-based products at mass scale.