Shiok Meats, which claims to be the first company in the world to develop cultivated crustaceans, has announced its focus has shifted towards commercialising red meat, citing significant challenges in scaling crustacean proteins.

The Singapore-based start-up, operated by Sandhya Sriram and Kai Yi Ling, was founded in 2018 and has successfully produced cultivated prawn, lobster and crab prototypes.

Despite making significant steps towards commercialisation, including drastically reducing the cost of its cultivated prawn meat from approximately $10,000 per kilo to $50 per kilo, the company has announced it will now be shifting its focus towards red meat.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Sriram said Shiok Meats is facing considerable challenges in being able to scale crustacean meats, and so will move towards commercialising cultivated red meat via Gaia Foods, which Shiok acquired in 2021.

Sandhya Sriram, Shiok Meats’ co-founder

“Thanks to the universe that we did follow through with the acquisition,” the post reads. “They [Gaia Foods] have cell lines that can scale – but red meat also has its own set of challenges in scale up. At least it is not very novel in terms of tech and there is tonnes of background information on it out there. So we will be focussing on red meat as our first product to go for regulatory approval, followed by seafood.”

In the post, which also references personnel challenges including high turnover and dissatisfaction rates, Sriram said Shiok Meats was struggling to shift from R&D to large scale production, and that they company needs more time to get the process right.

“We are unable to scale crustacean stem cells into production – we are facing issues with cell lines that can scale and then further issues in scale up too. However, we couldn’t have guessed that all this would happen until we tried them at a certain scale.

“We will definitely get there as an industry as a whole. We just need founders, consumers, entrepreneurs and investors to understand that time will lead to profitability and eventually this industry will scale. We need patient and practical entrepreneurs with extreme passion and vision and we need patient capital. I really hope and wish we all succeed, as the world needs the solutions that we are working on.”

Shiok Meats was unable to comment when approached by Future Alternative.

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