While Europeans may have to wait for a while before being able to sample lab-processed meat, over in the US fish drawn from cells could be on the menu in restaurants later this year.
One of the market leaders in the space San Diego startup BlueNalu yesterday announced it has raised $60 million in funding which will enable it to build out a pilot factory and subject to regulatory approval to launch its fare in some US food outlets later in 2021.
The company, which has been in existence for three years, has developed cell lines to grow up to eight species of seafood with mahi-mahi and bluefin tuna its initial offerings. It makes cell-based fillets by isolating real fish muscle cells, fat cells and connecting tissue. Nutrients are then added before the cells are grown in stainless steel equipment.
Should BlueNalu’s product get approval from US regulators it will only be the second time lab-processed food has been licensed for sale anywhere in the world, following Eat Just’s cultured chicken, which is now available in restaurants in Singapore.
The latest round of funding was led by Rage Capital with other partners including the Isle of Man-based company Agronomics, Lewis & Clark AgriFood, McWin and Siddhi Capital, Radicle Growth, Rich Products Corp. and Thai Union.
“BlueNalu’s technology is the next phase in the continuous agricultural revolution,” said Alex Ruimy, managing partner of Rage Capital, in a statement. “What the team has built, and continues to build, promises to change the way we source and eat fish.”
The company President and Chief Executive Lou Cooperhouse, told the San Diego Union Tribune “We will be only in restaurants when we start. We plan to launch here in San Diego in the first restaurant. We have not determined one just yet, but we are in various discussions. From San Diego, we will quickly launch in restaurants in the U.S.”
Cooperhouse also spoke at the launch of the Moo’s Law book pointing out that “food now has become a social and political issue, though at the same time consumers don’t want to compromise on taste and texture.
“The seafood industry is also inefficient with highly variable quality. With lab-processed seafood we can make whatever consumers want”