Culture club

Culture Club: Why Asia will become the epicenter of the cultured seafood industry

Asia is the world’s largest consumer of protein and especially seafood, consuming around three to five times the per capita seafood consumption of North America or Europe. This voracious appetite for seafood has led many experts to sound the alarm over a rapidly widening gap between seafood supply and demand.

Hoping to bridge this gap, pioneering cultured seafood companies such as Avant and BlueNalu, both of which have a deep interest in Asia as a major growth market due to cuisine, culture, demand and an overall necessity due to a vulnerable supply chain.

“BlueNalu is based in San Diego, California, but we are a global company, [and in this] we are very focused on establishing a presence and growing in Asia,”CEO Lou Cooperhouse said FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Frankly, it’s because the demand there is really the highest in the world, and it’s also expected to increase significantly in the coming years, which will bring new challenges for the seafood supply chain. This growing demand comes at the unfortunate expense of the supply chain.

“As things stand, we can’t feed the planet the amount of seafood it needs today, let alone in the next two decades, so we already have a fixed line in terms of concerns the amount of seafood coming from the ocean, and agriculture will also not be able to meet global demand – [cultured seafood] is essential to create food security, supply chain stability, eliminate seasonality and also deliver health benefits to consumers.

Asia also has the added benefit of being home to Singapore, the first country in the world to approve the sale of cultured meat, which is a definite draw for companies like BlueNalu and Avant, as they believe it also signals a openness to cultivated seafood products.

“The Singapore government is really leading the way in terms of regulations with their approval of cultured meat and we are already working with the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) for cultured seafood, so going forward I think we will see many more such products being reviewed and verified by the independent government team before they reach consumers,”Avant CEO Carrie Chan told us.

“There are still challenges in terms of cutting costs and moving towards manufacturing for the sector, but these are really things that we can already see happening – for us for example, we are building a pilot plant in Singapore. and aim to start operations by end-2022. And once operations start and we can scale, everything else is on the way.

“The real challenge now is the time it takes to get everything done, and having to ask everyone to be patient, whether it’s reaching commercialization or scaling up and achieving reductions in costs – we companies still have to spend a lot of money and time and CAPEX in building our factory to get there, and we expect to take at least a year to two years to reach the first stage of production, so need patience and more time is the real trial now.

Watch the video above to learn more.