First multiply fish cells in the lab to produce “cultivated meat”; then 3D-bioprint the mass into sustainable food for eco-conscious ‘steak’-holders!

The aquaculture industry is addressing environmental issues such as overfishing, sea water pollution (from heavy metals and industrial waste), seafood contamination, and constituting an increasing threat to wild fish populations.

One emerging deep-tech initiative is the development of cultivated “structured seafood” products: 3D-bioprinted meat protein in the form of “whole cuts like fillets and tuna steaks”.

In Singapore, Umami Meats, a food tech start-up, is focused on producing lab-cultivated (not caught in the wild) seafood through its research focus on species of fish that are on the International Union For Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Such species are not suitable for farming, and are at risk of being driven extinct by human consumption. Cell samples that have the potential to become muscle and fat can be cultivated and proliferated in the lab to form slabs of ‘structured’ meat.

The firm’s development strategy includes collaborating with deep tech firms that have highly aligned technologies and seafood market knowledge that can enable scalable production and distribution in key markets. It recently announced a partnership with MeaTech 3D Ltd (MeaTech), a 3D bioprinting specialist in meat products.

MeaTech’s technology allows partners to produce complex meat products with pinpoint precision at an industrial rate of production without impacting cell viability. Through this partnership, Umami Meats will explore the development and bioprinting of a variety of structured seafood products with commercially viable processes.

Said Mihir Pershad, Chief Executive Officer and founder, Umami Meats: “This partnership will enable us to build upon our technology platform for cultivating fish muscle and fat to produce a range of premium ‘structured’ meat products. We believe cultivated seafood holds tremendous potential to provide a local, sustainable source of healthy protein and to address many of the challenges facing our food system and our oceans.”

MeaTech’s Chief Executive Officer and founder Arik Kaufman said: “This new agreement reflects our commercialization strategy of industry collaboration using our unique 3D printing capabilities. We are excited about entering the seafood sector and believe it will lead us to new market pathways throughout Asia and worldwide.”