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Shiok Meats, Singapore’s cell-based crustacean food tech, has just raised fresh funding in a bridge round. The round was led by Vietnam seafood major Vinh Hoan and South Korean food giants Woowa Brothers and CJ CheilJedang. Shiok says the capital will fuel its ongoing R&D and construction of its new production facility.
Shiok Meats has attracted an undisclosed amount of funding from Asian food majors in a new bridge round announced on Wednesday (July 21). It was led by Vietnam’s top seafood exporter Vinh Hoan, and two South Korean majors Woowa Brothers and CJ CheilJedang. Woowa is the operator of South Korea’s largest food delivery app, Baedal Minjok, and CJ CheilJedang, the F&B arm of CJ Group, one of the biggest conglomerates in the country.
They were joined by South Korean family office Irongrey, Big Idea Ventures (BIV), Monde Nissin CEO Henry Soesanto, Boom Capital, and Mindshift Capital. U.S.-based Alexander Payne Living Trust, Japanese firm Toyo Seikan also participated. While the specific amount raised was not disclosed, the new bridge funds bring Shiok’s total capital raised to around $30 million to date.
Cell-based crustacean facility
Shiok says the proceeds will primarily be used to fuel its ongoing R&D, help build its new production site, and lower costs. It comes amid the startup’s POV grant win from the state-backed agency Enterprise Singapore, which enables fast-tracking of its commercialisation plans.
“The next 12-18 months are crucial, and the funds will allow us to advance our R&D efforts and build a state-of-the-art production facility,” commented CEO and co-founder Dr. Sandhya Sriram. “We will expand operations, collaborations and also work on vertical and/or horizontal integration within the alternative protein industry.”
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 the Asia market. With a number of South Korean investors on board, the CEO says that the country is now on its “prospective” market list. Singapore is first on the list for the company, of course, with other target markets including Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia.
The Singapore food tech previously revealed plans for its production site back in November 2020, when it closed its Series A with $12.6 million. The round elevated Shiok to the most valuable Southeast Asian cell-based startup to date.
At the time, Shiok said the funds would go towards building its first commercial pilot plant to churn out cultured minced shrimp by 2022. The plant is set to become the world’s first factory dedicated to growing crustacean meats directly from seafood cells.
In terms of lowering costs, Shiok says it plans to put its products out for around $50 per kilogram by 2022, down from the current $1,500 per kilogram price tag for its cell-based prawn. In the coming years, the startup hopes to slash costs even further down to $5 per kilo, putting its ethical and sustainable alternative firmly within competitive range with conventional seafood.
‘Doing our part to educate consumers’
Shiok, based in Asia’s food tech innovation hub, is pushing ahead with its plans to bring cell-based seafood to diners’ plates. But while Singapore is the first country to have approved the sale of cultured meat, boosting consumer acceptance is still fresh in the minds of Shiok’s founders.
“We’re committed to bringing this novel technology to the forefront of global food systems,” shared co-founder and CTO Dr. Ka Yi Ling. “As a pioneer venture, we will continue to do our part in educating consumers on the benefits of cell-based meat technology for the environment, human health, and animal welfare.”
So far, the signs are positive. In a recent internal consumer study conducted by Shiok, the startup found that over 78% of Singapore residents are willing to try cell-based seafood. Most of the participants in the poll were omnivores and cited environmental reasons as the main appeal of cell-based protein.
With the new funds, Sriram says that Shiok is racing ahead with its scale-up plans and will be launching in the Singapore market “latest by 2023”. Aside from cultivating shrimp, the startup is behind the world’s first cell-based lobster.
“We are very excited to be backed by partners who believe in our potential to scale and are equally passionate about the cell-based meat and seafood space,” shared the CEO.
All images courtesy of Shiok Meats.