Umami Bioworks, Shiok Meats merge to scale cultivated seafood production

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Getty/fcafotodigital
Source: Getty/fcafotodigital

Related tags cultivated seafood Mergers and acquisitions

Umami Bioworks and Shiok Meats merge to accelerate the development of sustainable seafood solutions to “provide consumers with mercury-free, nutritious and culturally relevant seafood alternatives, thereby contributing to the regeneration of marine ecosystems,” according to a joint statement released earlier this month.

By leveraging Umami Bioworks’ biomanufacturing and machine learning-based automation with Shiok Meats’ research and development in crustacean cell cultivation, the merger “will enhance go-to-market efficiencies, expand commercial opportunities and accelerate regulatory approvals and market introduction of cultivated seafood products,” according to the joint release.

Mihir Pershad, CEO of Umami Bioworks, will lead the unified company as CEO, in addition to a board of directors, which will include seafood investment leaders, Hatch Blue and Aqua-Spark.

"Uniting Umami's platform technologies around continuous biomanufacturing and machine learning-based automation with Shiok Meats' groundbreaking crustacean work offers an expedited path to the cultivation of a range of sustainable seafood products,” Pershad said in a statement.

He continued, "The technological and business synergies of this merger represent a vital strategic step towards addressing the critical challenges of cultivated seafood production and advancing our mission to supply sustainable, not-caught seafood without compromising the planet's health."

Sandhya Sriram, group CEO and co-founder of Shiok Meats, said in the same statement that the merger will allow for “increased scale and speed to market in Asia and globally,” enhancing the progress Shiok Meats has made on cultivated crustaceans, including an EU-granted patent.

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Building strategic partnerships to grow cellular agriculture sector

Both companies are based in Singapore where cultivated meat is approved for sale. Currently, neither country has achieved scalable production for the commercial market due to the cost of the nutrients (growth medium) required to grow in bioreactors and must be grown in small batches.

Umami Bioworks and Cell AgriTech (Malaysia) announced a partnership to open a large-scale facility in Kedah, Malaysia, last December. The facility is expected to open in 2025, highlighting the growing trend of strategic partnerships to foster the growth of cultivated seafood, as reported previously​ by FoodNavigator-USA. In the same story, the company intends to explore different channels for cultivated seafood, including pet foods, which could be used as a sustainable replacement with less regulatory restrictions and improved consumer adoption.

"Umami's partnership with Cell AgriTech is a commercial agreement to establish production facilities for cultivated seafood based on Umami's plug-and-play manufacturing solution. This agreement will remain in effect as UMAMI and Cell AgriTech work toward a pilot facility in Malaysia in 2025," Pershad confirmed with FoodNavigator-USA.

To date, Shiok Meats has developed R&D on crustaceans (shrimp, crabs and lobsters) through cellular agriculture. The company has raised upwards of $30m in funding from investors, including Aqua-Spark, SEEDS capital, Tokyo Seikan, Real Tech Holdings, Big Idea Ventures, Y Combinator, Entrepreneur First, AiiM Partners and Henry Soesanto of Monde Nissin, among others.


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