A startup in the city state of Singapore is growing shrimp in a lab made from extracted samples of cells. The cells are fed a nutrient rich mix that is closely related to what a ´real´ shrimp would feed on in its natural habitat.
Sandhya Sriram the CEO of the startup plans to have these cells multiply billions of times. However, unlike regular shrimp, only the meat is grown. While this seems a very efficient way of running a shrimp farm with minimal waste, a kilogram of shrimp grown this way could cost up to $5000 per kilogram.
Ka Yi Ling, cofounder says: “There are little black bits in there. That’s from the live shrimp and prawn, and the red solution, it’s in other nutrients that we feed it. It’s a mix of fatty acids, amino acids, proteins, and sugars.”
Sandhya Sriram, CEO of Shiok Meats, says: “Once we let this go on for a couple of weeks, the next step is to convert the stem cells into muscle fibers, which is your meat. And that also happens within the same vessel by changing some of the parameters like the mixing speed, the pH, the oxygen, and so on.”
Barclays estimates the alternative meat market, including beef and chicken, could be worth up to $140 billion by the end of this decade. An important part of getting a market viable product is driving down the costs of producing meat. Sandhya Sriram says one way of getting the price of producing lab-grown meat is getting the price of the nutrient mix fed to the cells down. At the moment this makes up 90% of the costs.
55 companies around the globe are now working on artificial meat, or a variant of it. Examples of meat varieties being grown in labs are as varied as pork meat to fish blatter.