Shiok Meats inaugural a mini-plant with advanced R&D facility for cultivated seafood in Singapore, the first of its kind

Shiok Meats official opened their mini-plant located at their Singapore headquarters. The new facilities opening was officiated by the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu. The mini-plant is expected to help the R&D team in process optimization, technology transfer, and data-based development for sustainably cultivating seafood like shrimp, lobster, and crab. 

The Southeast Asia’s first cultivated seafood and meat company and the world’s first cultivated crustacean company partnered with global leader in innovative, sustainable infrastructure solutions Black & Veatch for the conceptual design and layout of the plant, based on industry best practices, compliance principles, and viable future manufacturing models.

The Minister Fu said that was glad “to see Singaporean companies at the forefront of this global drive for food innovation. Shiok Meats is our homegrown company developing cultured seafood products and has raised about USD 30 million in investment funding since its inception three years ago. The opening of this mini R&D plant is a significant milestone for Shiok Meats as it expands its efforts and validates its unique cellular agriculture technology for the production of cultured shrimp, crab and lobster.”

On the other hand, Durgalakshmi Sathiakumar, Chief Operating Officer at Shiok Meats, shared that the company have built a state-of-the-art facility “which will be a stepping stone towards our pilot manufacturing plant in Singapore, serving as a great model for technology transfer between R&D scale and production scale. Our processes, sustainable and traceable, are designed to help gauge the impact of the cultivated seafood technology. It’s one of the greatest scientific advancements of our time, steadily taken to the next level. I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team, especially in the middle of a constantly evolving pandemic and global supply chain disruptions.”

Innovative, sustainable infrastructure solutions

Shiok Meats partnered with global leader in innovative, sustainable infrastructure solutions Black & Veatch for the conceptual design and layout of the plant, based on industry best practices, compliance principles, and viable future manufacturing models.

David Ziskind, Director of Engineering at Black & Veatch NextGen Ag said that “reshaping our food system will require massive change. We are proud of Shiok Meats on this important milestone in transforming the future of food. Innovation and sustainability are core to our engineering and construction solutions as we help companies bridge the gap between science, research and development, engineering, and commercialization to bring new food products to market, at scale.”

For the end-to-end construction of the fully-functional mini-plant, Shiok Meats worked with FoodNet International Holdings Pte Ltd, a local one-stop solution provider for the Food Industry.

The production facility, which is due in the next 18 months, will be an extension of this mini-plant in terms of engineering design and foundation, which is why it was crucial to get this right. “The cultivated seafood industry is novel and hence we need to scale up production in steps, gradually and strategically. As we prepare for commercialization in 2023, we want to ensure a comprehensive manufacturing model and top-notch products. This would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our partners, Black & Veatch and FoodNet, our investors, and our rockstar and resilient team,” added Sandhya Sriram, Group CEO & Co-founder, Shiok Meats.

Investment from important companies

Besides the mini-plant, Shiok Meats recently announced the addition of strategic investors like Woowa Brothers, CJ CheilJedang Corporation, Vietnam’s top seafood exporter Vinh Hoan Corporationa and Cultured Seafood Investors LLC, bringing the total funding to approximately USD 30 million to date.

In that sense, Vinh Hoan Corporation announced their investment aiming for alternative protein industry. “Shiok says the proceeds will primarily be used to fuel its ongoing research and development, help build its new production site, and lower costs.”

Co-founder and CEO of Vinh Hoan Corporation, Sandhya Sriram, told Asian Food Network (AFN) that the startup is expecting to close a full Series B round sometime next year.

The bridge funding “is more of a strategic partnership round; rather than [being about] the funding amount per se, it’s a vote of confidence and commitment from our new investors to building a sustainable future of food,” she said.

“South Korea is an important prospective market for us and both Woowa Brothers and CJ are successful players in the Korean food industry. Through this partnership, we are expecting strategic advisory and support as we plan our next steps in this market, Sriram added.”

Vinh Hoan — which has also invested in Hong Kong cultivated seafood startup Avant Meats — “has a longstanding repute for embracing innovation while being one of the largest processors and exporters of fresh and frozen seafood,” she added.

Since being founded in 2018, Shiok Meats has made significant progress in a short span. They launched their first cell-based shrimp and lobster prototypes in exclusive tasting sessions in 2019 and 2020, respectively. At the moment, the startup boasts a team of 30 scientists, engineers, and food tech specialists, all working to bring its cell-cultured crustaceans to launch in Singapore and the Asia market latest by 2023.

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