When we last discussed cultivated shrimp pricing with Shiok Meats’ Group Co-Founder and CEO Sandhya Sriram back in 2020, the price per kilogramme was hovering at around US$7,000 – demonstrating the enormous progress the firm has made over the last two years.
“This US$50/kg milestone is really a big milestone and a huge win for us compared to the US$10,000 or US$5,000 that we were at previously, it’s a huge update we’re very proud to be sharing with the industry,” Sriram told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“I should first make it clear that right now the US$50/kg milestone that has been hit is at the R&D scale, but we are extremely confident that we will get to that same price at the production scale by next year.
“This is very important to us as we are most definitely still aiming for a 2023 commercial launch, specifically the end of 2023, which is less than two years at perhaps just 15 to 18 months away.
“For the initial launch, our first product will be cultivated shrimps – we do of course also do work on other crustaceans such as crab and lobster as well, but at the moment we are focusing all of our efforts on shrimp.”
Shiok Meats was one of the first firms in the Asia Pacific region to focus its research on cultivated seafood, and crustaceans in particular, and with this development the firm also hopes to become the first in the region to serve cultivated shrimps to consumers.
“This has already happened for cultivated chicken in Singapore as we all know, and I am hopeful that this will be the same for Shiok cultivated shrimp next year,” she added.
“All we are looking forward to reaching that scale and getting to that point where we can say that a good substantial number of consumers [have access to and are able to] consume cultivated shrimp every day or every week or as a consistent part of their meals.
“So again, scale is really the main thing we are going for here [in order to efficiently go to market] – when we started off, we were the only company that was working on shrimps and the muscle and fats from shrimps, and we had to learn everything from scratch.
“So yes, we have figured out everything on the R&D scale, but we are working to further fully scale up to the production scale, and it’s not so easy just getting from a few grammes to kilogrammes or tonnes or multiple tonnes just like that, so we have built a mini-plant to optimise the process [and] this has been progressing very well.”
More funding on the way
To date, Shiok Meats has received funding around the US$30mn amount since its inception in 2018. But given its rapid development, team-building (from less than five to over 40 personnel within four years), and the establishment of its mini-plant in Singapore, the firm is now looking to move into another new round of fundraising so it can grow even further.
“We have just opened a new round of investment but timing-wise we are a bit flexible about is as we do understand currently the markets are not doing extremely well,” Sriram said.
“So the aim really is to get in the best investors, the most strategic investors – so in a way it’s not just about the money, but it’s more about the people we hope are coming and partnering with us and we are in the midst of due diligence with some very interesting investors and funds.”
Shiok Meats so far counts multiple big Asian companies including South Korea’s CJ Cheiljedang, Vietnam’s Vin Hoan, Japan’s Toyo Seikan and many more – but it is hopeful to partner with even more large food companies in order to make even more of an impact.
“For us to make a mark in that industry and make cultivated seafood mainstream, we need the support of larger food companies that want to use this technology, because they have the scale, they have the talent, they have the capital, they have the space, the land, the infrastructure that is needed,” she said.
“We are experts in technology and we’d like to stay that way and improve the technology as much as we can, which we will be able to do even quicker with the right partnerships, so that’s also what we’re going after.”
Protein, including cultivated proteins, will be a major area of focus in our upcoming Growth Asia Summit 2022, alongside the other major topics of Healthy Ageing and Probiotics, Prebiotics and the Microbiome. Register your interest here.
Also, watch this space for an upcoming exclusive inside look into Shiok Meats’ mini-plant with FoodNavigator-Asia featuring more insights from Sandhya, coming soon.