CellMEAT to bring first cell-based Dokdo shrimp to Korea, US and Singapore in 2024
27 Apr 2022 --- CellMEAT, a cell-based shrimp manufacturer, plans to bring its flagship Dokdo shrimp to markets in Korea, the US and Singapore by 2024.
The Korea-based business just bagged US$8.1 million in a series A round of funding, which it will use to launch its Seoul center with a capacity to produce 100 kg per day, Heejung Kim, COO of CellMEAT tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Once CellMEAT’s Seoul center is successfully launched, we will raise series B funding for a large-scale production facility,” says Kim.
She expects the company to receive between US$30 to US$40 million in the next round of funding, to significantly scale up its current production capacity of 10 kg per day in its prototype labs.
US$5 per kilogram cultured shrimp
Although previously, CellMEAT talked about producing shrimp at US$20 per kg, the company revealed to FoodIngredientsFirst that it expects to market their shrimp at under US$5 per kg.
While that is already considerably cheaper compared to regular shrimp, it is a significant claim referring to Dokdo shrimp, which is a regional premium delicacy. According to Kim, it is priced at around US$160 per kg.
Meanwhile, cell-based shrimp competitor Shiok Meats expects to launch its own cell-based shrimps at US$50 per kg in 2023.
“If another company has a different price point, that’s great,” says Shikha Malhotra, chief of staff to CEO at Shiok Meats, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Explaining that at the time of launch, Shiok Meats expects the cost of the shrimp to be at US$50 per kg, the company anticipates bringing the costs of the media down when they “achieve economies of scale.”
“We have always been and continue to be realistic in terms of timelines and our goals; getting from US$10,000 per /kg down to a few hundred dollars (per kg) currently has been challenging but extremely satisfying as we progress with our R&D milestones.”
Jumbo opportunities in Dokdo
CellMEAT plans to produce three different sizes of shrimp, always using cells of the regional Dokdo variety.
Dokdo shrimp is bigger than regular shrimp, reaching sizes of 20 to 25 cm. The peach-colored crustacean can only be found in the Arctic Ocean and the Seas of Japan, Bering and Okhotsk, living in waters – sometimes deeper than 300 meters –.
The largest variety inhabits the Dokdo island waters between Korea and Japan.
More than one fish in the sea
Meanwhile, Shiokmeats is forecasting commercialization next year.
“We are on track to bring the first shrimp product to market by 2023 via a premium restaurant in Singapore,” adds Malhotra.
Shiok Meats plans to launch next in another Asian country “where factors like demand, regulations, talent and growth potential are all aligned,” explains Malhotra. The company is looking for collaborations and local partnerships to fuel its expansion plans.
She anticipates future funding will help the company reach more commercial markets and diversify its product offering with new similar species.
“We wish the best for this industry. We have always been open to collaboration as we all need to work together to reach mass scale production,” says Malhotra.
A previous interview for FoodIngredientsFirst revealed Shiok Meats work with 3D printing to add texture to synthesized shrimp meat grown from isolated stem cells. With its technology, the company claims to be able to grow crustaceans four times faster than conventional natural production.
Consumers are increasingly willing to opt for alternative cultured foods. With 78% of consumers surveyed in Singapore saying they are up for trying cultivated seafood and meat, according to Shiok Foods’ market research.
Interestingly, in another survey from the company, researching this time the Hong Kong market, they found that food safety is the primary motivator among the public to accept cultivated meat, with 43% of respondents citing it as their main priority.
Other concerns, such as sustainability and environmental impact, appealed to 40% of respondents.
These numbers represent a considerable backing from consumers, especially in the seafood market sector, where pollution and bacteria can be health hazards. Consumer health concerns are an insight that Pearlita Foods, a cell-based market player in the oyster niche, revealed earlier this month to FoodIngredientsFirst.
Both Shiok Meats and CellMEAT count on the support of their respective governments to launch innovative products. The latter is working actively in a research team for the high-value-added future food technology initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture of South Korea.
However, Korea has not yet approved a definition for cultivated meat, which explains CellMEAT’s plans to release in Singapore, the first country in the world to approve cell-based products.
Nevertheless, the company received funds between 2020 and 2021 from the Ministry of small and medium enterprises (SME) and Startups. Currently, it is receiving funds from the Korea Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology in Food, Agriculture and Forestry, which are expected to end in 2025.
Shiok Meats has also received aid from Enterprise Singapore.
“We are fortunate to have had the support from the Singapore Government through grants and investments in the last three and a half years, which have helped us build our labs from the ground up, hire the right talent, and plan for larger production facilities.” says Malhotra.
By Marc Cervera
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