Cell-based seafood start-up Shiok Meats has raised US$12.6 million in Series A funding, a sign that investors’ appetite for alternative proteins remains strong.
The Singapore-based firm, which plans to launch its minced shrimp in 2022, announced on Wednesday (30 September) it had attracted funding from around the globe. Netherlands-based investment fund Aqua-Spark was the lead investor. Others included SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of government agency Enteprise Singapore, Japan’s Real Tech Fund as well as Korea’s Yellowdog Empowers Fund and Irongrey, a tech investing family office.
In April last year, it raised US$4.6 million in seed funding.
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According to Shiok Meats, shrimp is a US$50 billion market. Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and India are major producers, and conventional methods often contribute to overfishing and involve the use of antibiotics, chemicals and hormones. Conventional shrimp farming has also resulted in mangrove loss in Asia.
Shiok Meats isolates stem cells from shrimp, lobster and crab, and grows the harvested stem cells in nutrient-rich conditions. The company said its patent-pending technology can grow crustaceans four times faster than conventional production.
Besides frozen cell-based shrimp meat for dumplings and other dishes, Shiok Meats plans to launch shrimp flavouring paste and powder, fully-formed 3D shrimp and cell-based lobster and crab products in the coming years.
The funds raised will go towards the building of its first commercial pilot plant. From US$3,500 per kilogramme, the company intends to bring the cost of its shrimp down to US$50 per kilogramme in 2022, Bloomberg reported.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic and widespread travel and movement restrictions, Shiok Meats chief executive Sandhya Sriram said the Series A fundraising was done entirely online, from laboratory tours and meetings to pitching and due diligence.
Shiok Meats was a finalist in this year’s The Liveability Challenge, which is organised by Eco-Business and awards winners with up to S$1 million in funding from Temasek Foundation.
Last week, another Asian food tech group announced it has raised US$70 million from various investors around the globe. Green Monday Holdings said the amount was the largest of its kind to date in Asia, and investors included private equity firm TPG’s The Rise Fund, Swire Pacific, institutional investors CPT Capital, Jefferies Group and Sino Group’s Ng Family Trust.
Singer Wang Leehom and impact investor John Wood were among the new investors.
Green Monday Holdings is involved in plant-based food and operates OmniFoods—which makes vegan luncheon meat and other products—as well as Green Common, which does food retail, distribution and dining.
It will use the capital to enhance research and development of products and boost its production, distribution and supply chain. In the next six months, it plans to expand from 10 to over 20 markets globally, and launch Green Common flagship stores in locations across China and Singapore.