Shiok Meats, a leading cell-based crustacean meat company based in Singapore, has secured US$12.6 million in Series A funding round, led by Aqua-Spark, an investment fund focused on sustainable aquaculture.
The round also saw participation a slew of investors from across the world, including SEEDS Capital (the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore), Real Tech Fund (Japan), Irongrey (a global tech investing family office based in Korea), Yellowdog Empowers Fund (South Korea).
Other co-investors in the round are Ilshin Holdings (Singapore), Toyo Seikan Group Holdings (Japan), Veg Invest Trust (US), Makana Ventures (Singapore), AiiM Partners LP (US), Beyond Impact (Europe), Kelvin Chan Siang Lin (Singapore), and Alex Payne and Nicole Brodeur (US).
According to a press release, Shiok will use the funds to build the first-of-its-kind commercial pilot plant from which it plans to launch its minced shrimp product in 2022.
In July, Shiok raised US$3 million in bridge funding from investors, including Agronomics and VegInvest.
Founded in August 2018 by two stem cell scientists Dr. Sandhya Sriram (CEO) and Dr. Ka Yi Ling (CTO), Shiok claims to be the first cell-based meat company in Southeast Asia and the first and only cell-based meat company working on shrimp.
It is working to bring cell-based crustacean meats (shrimp, crab, lobster) to the kitchen. Its meats are cruelty-free, healthy, and better for the environment with the same taste and texture and more nutrients than their traditional counterparts.
The startup stands out from other cell-based meat production companies because of its proprietary technology that isolates stem cells from shrimp, lobster, and crab. Once the stem cells are harvested, the shrimp, lobster and crab meats are grown in nutrient-rich conditions, similar to that of a greenhouse.
After four-to-six weeks, the cell-based seafood is exactly the same as its conventional counterpart but more sustainable, clean, and nutritious.
The output of Shiok’s pilot plant will be frozen cell-based shrimp meat for dumplings and other shrimp-based dishes. Beyond cell-based shrimp, Shiok plans to launch shrimp flavouring paste and powder, fully-formed 3D shrimp, and cell-based lobster and crab products in the coming years.
Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, Co-founders of Aqua-Spark, said: “The cell-based animal protein industry has been on our radar for some time as once it is at scale it will have an enormous influence on food production efficiency, food safety, and the environment. As our first investment in cell-based seafood, Shiok Meats immediately stood out to us with their strong, female-led team and impressive milestones to-date.”
The shrimp market is a US$50-billion market globally with Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and India being the major producers. While there are many farms and technologies improving shrimp farming, there is still a lot work to be done. Most of what is currently on the market is raised in crowded factories/farms and treated with antibiotics, chemicals, and hormones.
Conventional production processes often contribute to overfishing, excessive bycatch, misrepresentation, and mislabeling as well as contamination with effluents, heavy metals, and microplastics. This form of production is unsustainable and the sector strain will only increase as the population grows.
Shiok is addressing this need and disrupting crustacean production to ensure people can eat clean shrimp, crab, and lobster from a safe source.
Clean meat production could reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 96 per cent, energy consumption by 45 per cent, land use by 99 per cent, and water consumption by 96 per cent.
Image Credit: Shiok Meats