Singapore-based foodtech startup Shiok Meats said it has raised US$3 million in a bridge funding round from Agronomics, US-based VegInvest, UK-based Impact Venture, and UAE-headquartered Mindshift Capital Fund, securing a total of US$7.6 million in funding to date.

Founded in 2018, Shiok Meats produces lab-grown seafood meat such as shrimp, claiming to be the first cell-based meat company in Southeast Asia.

The startup will use the new funds to set up its first manufacturing plant in Singapore as it looks to commercialize its business in the next two to three years.

What challenges has it faced recently? Investors from Europe and the US have shown great interest in foodtech startups creating cell-based meat. In Asia, investors, particularly angels and smaller VCs, are slowly showing interest. Larger VCs are still “very risk-averse,” though, Shiok Meats CEO and co-founder Sandhya Sriram told Tech in Asia.

This type of challenge is evident in the space. Carrie Chan, CEO and co-founder of cell-based protein provider Avant Meats, told Tech in Asia in an earlier interview that companies like hers have to be “patient for capital to roll in.” It may also take a year to commercially launch its products.

According to a study by the Good Food Institute, cell-based meat companies globally have collected US$73.7 million from 70 investors across 22 deals as of 2018. Despite its rapid growth, the sector is still in nascent stage as the investments represent only 6% of those made in plant-based food industry and 0.5% in foodtech.

Sriram also expects that it may take years to set pricing for a mass market as it’s a novel technology, as reducing cost is another challenge faced by many cultivated meat producers. The chief exec said in a recent interview with the South China Morning Post that Shiok Meats aims to bring down the cost of producing a kilogram of lab-grown shrimp meat to US$50 from the current US$5,000.

What are its future plans? Currently, the company is still in the pre-revenue, research and development phase. It looks to create more prototypes with its cell-based shrimp meat moving forward.

Shiok Meats previously revealed that it’s aiming to sell its first product – a dumpling made with cell-based shrimp – in Singapore by 2021. It’s also eyeing expansion in Hong Kong, India, and Australia.

For now, the startup is working to close its series A round by the end of this year, Sriram said.

What is its funding history?

  • Seed round (2019): US$4.6 million from Monde Nissin CEO Henry Soesanto (lead), Y Combinator, Entrepreneur First, AiiM Partners Fund, Big Idea Ventures, AeraVC, Beyond Impact Ventures, Boom Capital, Twynam Investments, and some angel investors
  • Pre-seed round (2019): US$500,000 from Y Combinator, AiiM Partners, Boom Capital, and Wild Earth CEO and co-founder Ryan Bethencourt

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