“When we founded Shiok Meats, we wanted to serve the Asian population, since both my co-founder and I are from Asia. The most-consumed protein in this part of the world is seafood. Among seafood, it’s crustaceans, and among crustaceans it’s shrimp. So we decided to develop, using stem cells, a protein that everybody likes and is prevalent in all the cuisines. Plus, our unique positioning was that nobody else was doing it, so that was good for us, as we could be the first ever to do it, and we were.
From establishing Shiok Meats more than three years ago, we’re now just 18 months from commercialisation: By mid-2023, we plan to launch our cultured shrimp meat, and cultivated lobster and crab meat could be in the pipeline after that. Gaia Foods, the cell-based red meat start-up Shiok Meats acquired in 2021, is looking to commercialise its cultivated beef and pork products in three to four years. And we just started to raise Series B funding too.
Everything about going from lab-scale production to commercial-scale has been a challenge, from funding and finding the right people, to finding the right space and infrastructure. And there’s the technology itself: We’re taking a scientific technology intended for healthcare and putting it into food, so we have to be careful about the pricing, and make sure everything is safe and edible, and that the final product is just as delicious compared to conventional shrimp. We have to make sure all of that is perfect.
I’ve seen that consumers are more open to cell-cultured meat than we thought they would be … it is the food of the future.Sandhya Sriram
Over the years of building Shiok Meats, I’ve seen that consumers are more open to cell-cultured meat than we thought they would be, especially in places like Singapore and Hong Kong. We’ve done surveys that show that, especially among the younger population. It is the food of the future, so we’re glad the Gen Z and millennials are most interested in these products. The plant-based meat sector has paved the way for us, so we can come in as the cultivated meat sector, and both sides can provide sustainable products in the food industry.”