The Rising Stars Of Singapore’s Alternative Protein Scene
By: Green is the New Black
Shiok Meats and Karana named rising stars of Singapore’s Alternative Protein Scene
1. Shellfish? More like ‘cell’ fish: Shiok Meats
The alternative protein market is dominated by companies making burger patties and sausages, but seafood was uncharted territory until the female-founded startup Shiok Meats took it on. The team’s objective is to shake up the conventional seafood farming sector by creating cell-based crustaceans.
When Dr. Sandhya Sririham saw shrimp being farmed in sewage and washed with bleach, she was inspired to start the company alongside Dr. Ka Yi Ling. Not only have problematic agricultural methods attracted attention to the need for an alternate supply, but so have concerns like the destruction of mangroves and the use of slave labour.
At the present, 1 kilogramme of lab-grown shrimp costs roughly US$5000. Sririham intends to cut the cost to roughly US$50 in order to make it more accessible. They expect prices to decrease more as the firm increases its manufacturing. Supported by a spectacular variety of investors, Shiok Meats has closed a US$3 million bridge fundraising round in early July of 2020.
They are intending to build up their first production factory in Singapore to prepare for the commercialization of cultured seafood in the next 2-3 years. Their investors include the CEO of Monde Nissin (the parent company of Quorn, a UK-based meat substitute producer), Y Combinator, a seed money startup accelerator that has previously invested in Twitch and Airbnb, and Big Idea Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in the most innovative companies working on plant-based food, food technology, and alternative proteins.
3. Jackfruit hijacked: Karana
Karana plans to “re-image Asian cuisine.” Despite how bold the concept is, they might have a good shot. In 2021, they launched their pork alternative made from jackfruit. Those who are turned off by processed plant-based meat or “lab-grown” alternative proteins may be tempted by jackfruit because of its “already meaty texture.” In addition to being inherently pest- and drought-resistant and heat-tolerant, jackfruit is also quite simple to cultivate. As the consequences of the climate crisis and COVID-19 continue to reveal the vulnerability of the present food supply system, this derivative will grow in significance. Since “upwards of 60% of the world’s jackfruit production goes to waste,” there is a plethora of this wonder food available, and Karana is on a mission to bring it to a wider audience.
Karana closed its seed investment round with US$1.7 million in July 2020. Investors include Big Idea Ventures, the Temasek-backed fund devoted to plant-based food, and Germi8, a VC company that specialises in agri-food entrepreneurs. Karana will use the money to introduce its first line of plant-based meats and dim sum goods to the Singapore market, with the Char Siew Bao serving as the flagship item (a traditional barbecue pork bun in Chinese cuisine). According to Crichton, “Asian comfort food” is now their main emphasis. A part of the money will be utilised to boost its R&D capabilities by forming a regional food-tech team.
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