Asia is the world’s largest consumer of protein and particularly of seafood, eating some three to five times the per capita consumption of seafood in North America or Europe. This voracious appetite for seafood has led to many experts sounding alarm bells about a rapidly widening gap between seafood supply and demand.
Hoping to plug this gap are cultured seafood pioneering firms such as Avant and BlueNalu, which both have a deep interest in Asia as a major market for growth 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 told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Frankly it’s because the demand there is really the greatest in the world as it is, and is also expected to increase dramatically in the years ahead causing further challenges for the seafood supply chain. This increasing demand is coming at the unfortunate detriment of the supply chain.
“As it is we can't feed the planet, the amount of seafood that that it requires today, let alone in the next couple of decades so we already have a flatline when it comes to the amount of seafood that comes from the ocean, and agriculture is also not going to be able to keep up with global demand – [cultured seafood] is key to creating food security, supply chain stability, eliminate seasonality and offer health benefits to consumers too.”
Asia also has the added advantage of housing Singapore, the world’s first country to approve cultured meat for sale, which is a definite draw for firms like BlueNalu and Avant as they believes this also signals an openness towards cultured seafood.
“The Singapore government is really leading the way in terms of regulations with its approval of cultured meat and we are already working with the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) for cultured seafood so moving forward I expect we will see a lot more such products being reviewed and vetted by the independent government team before these reach consumers,” Avant CEO Carrie Chan told us.
“There are still challenges in terms of cost reduction and moving towards manufacturing for the sector, but really these are things that we can see happening already – for us for example, we are building a pilot plant in Singapore and targeting starting operations by end-2022. And once operations start and we can scale up, everything else is on the way.
“The real challenge now is the time needed to get everything done, and having to ask everyone to be patient, whether it be reaching commercialisation or scaling up and reaching cost reductions – we companies still need to spend quite some money and time and CAPEX into building up our plant to get there, and we do expect taking at least a year to two years to reach the first step of production, so needing patience and more time is the real trial now.”
Watch the video above to find out more.