Umami Meats, a cultivated seafood start-up based in Singapore, has explained how its approach to cultivated seafood production will ultimately reduce demand for fish species currently listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN].

Umami Meats plans to first produce three species of fish –  Japanese Eel, Yellowfin Tuna, and Red Snapper – all of which are in high demand within the Asian Market.

“Our priority is on fish species that are hard to domesticate due to either being too difficult to farm or the economics not making sense, yet are very popular in Asian cuisines thus end up being classified threatened or endangered in the IUCN Red List,” explained Umami Meats Co-Founder and CEO, Mihir Pershad. 

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is the most globally accepted authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity used for determining species’ extinction risk.

Of the three fish species Umami Meats is focusing on, Japanese Eel is listed as Endangered, Red snapper is listed as Vulnerable, and Yellowfin Tuna has previously been listed as Near Threatened and continues to be reported by the IUCN as overfished.

Umami Meats hopes to offer an alternative seafood product that will ease the pressure on unreliable seafood supply chains, as Pershad explains:

“Seafood is a [US]$180 billion industry faced with growing global demand and supply that is increasingly volatile and under threat from climate change, overfishing, and ocean pollutants.”

Umami Meats’ cultivated seafood products are designed to replace farmed and wild-caught fish with alternatives that are as close to identical as possible.

“Despite the sustainability benefits, it is going to be very challenging for people to change their food habits so what food manufacturers are needing to do is to produce an alternative that can replace the real thing effectively,” Pershad states. 

Having recently received US$2.4 mMillion in pre-seed funding to further its development of low-cost production systems, Umami Meats intends to launch its  products by 2024, beginning with via an initial B2B channel. 

The company wants to make it easy for consumers to choose cultivated seafood by offering affordable prices, and will achieve this by using a hybrid approach – creating products, that are blends of plant-based ingredients and cell-cultivated fish meat.

“Asia is of course a price sensitive market and cultivated seafood is going to be expensive in and of itself, not to mention the rising costs of materials these days, so we’re looking at going with blended products first to bring prices as close to parity as possible in the initial launch,” said Pershad.

Umami Meats explains that its products will be nutritionally equivalent, without the antibiotics, mercury, micro-plastics and parasites that can be found in farmed and wild-caught fish.

Umami Meats also states that its cultivated fish products have a 95% reduction in transportation emissions compared with live flown seafood and a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to fish produced by aquaculture.

READ MORE: Singapore’s Umami Meats focuses on endangered species for cultivated fish success [Food Navigator Asia] and Umami Meats Secures US$2.4 Million Pre-seed Funding to Advance Cultivated Seafood [Food Dive]