Cell-based seafood maker Shiok Meats announced today it has raised $12.6 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Aqua-Spark, an investment fund focused on sustainable aquaculture. SEEDS Capital, Real Tech Fund, Irongrey, and several others also participated in the round, according to a press release sent to The Spoon. This brings Shiok Meats’ total funding so far to $20.2 million.
Shiok Meats said it will put the new funds towards building its commercial pilot plant, from which the company plans to launch its minced shrimp product in 2022.
Shrimp is one of the most widely consumed seafood types in the world. For now, at least, Shiok Meats says it is the only company in the world creating a cell-based version that’s grown outside the animal. The company’s process involves isolating stem cells from the shrimp then growing them inside nutrient-rich bioreactors.
It joins a growing list of cell-based protein producers that have raised funds over the last year, including Blue Nalu, Good Catch, and Wild Type.
For all of these companies, price remains a major hurdle to getting products to market: cell-based protein is simply an expensive process right now that makes it impossible to get products to price parity with traditional seafood offerings. On its own website, Shiok meats notes that a limited production scale is in part responsible for the high costs of its cell-based shrimp. Scaling up production will help the company bring down costs.
Shiok recently partnered with IntegriCulture to use the latter’s CultNet System to create shrimp cell cultures. Doing so brings down the overall cost of cell-based shrimp production, since it doesn’t require expensive animal serums normally used for the process.
Shiok did a first public taste testing of cell-based shrimp dumplings last year, to positive reviews. The rest of us will have to wait a little longer. The company’s initial products will be frozen cell-based shrimp meat for dumplings and other shrimp-based dishes. In the coming years, the company also plans to launch shrimp flavoring pastes and powders, fully formed 3D shrimp, and cell-based lobster and crab products.