New York, NY — Aqua-Spark (“the Fund”), the first investment fund focused on sustainable aquaculture, announced an investment in Shiok Meats (“Shiok”), the world’s first cell-based crustacean meat company based in Singapore. Shiok is the first cell-based meat company in South East Asia, and the first and only cell-based meat company working on shrimp. Their flagship product is a highly-anticipated cell-based shrimp, which offers clean, traceable alternatives to the shrimp farming industry.
Aqua-Spark is the lead investor in Shiok Meat’s $12.6M Series A round, which also includes investments from SEEDS Capital (the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore), Real Tech Fund (Japan), Irongrey (a Global tech investing family office based in Korea), Yellowdog Empowers Fund (South Korea), Ilshin Holdings Pte. Ltd (Singapore), Toyo Seikan Group Holdings, Ltd (Japan), Veg Invest Trust (USA), Makana Ventures (Singapore), AiiM Partners LP (USA), Beyond Impact (Europe), Kelvin Chan Siang Lin (Singapore), and Alex Payne and Nicole Brodeur (USA). The funds will contribute towards building the first-of-its-kind commercial pilot plant from which Shiok plans to launch its minced shrimp product in 2022. This puts Shiok on schedule to become the first company in the world to have a fully functioning commercial pilot plant for cell-based crustacean production.
Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark:
“The cell-based animal protein industry has been on our radar for some time as once it is at scale it will have an enormous influence on food production efficiency, food safety, and the environment. As our first investment in cell-based seafood, Shiok Meats immediately stood out to us with their strong, female-led team and impressive milestones to-date. While we’ve invested in a number of technologies working to make shrimp farming more efficient, healthier, and less polluting, Shiok is the first company in our portfolio to focus on shrimp production. We are excited to help shape this novel and innovative industry, which we expect to have a huge impact on the future of seafood, while continuing to support sustainable aquaculture operations, inputs, and innovations across the value chain.”
The shrimp market is a $50 billion market globally with Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and India being the major producers of shrimp. While there are many farms and technologies improving shrimp farming, there is still work to be done. Much of what is currently on the market is raised in crowded factories/farms and treated with antibiotics, chemicals, and hormones. Conventional production processes often contribute to overfishing, excessive bycatch, misrepresentation, and mislabeling as well as contamination with effluents, heavy metals, and microplastics. This form of production is unsustainable and the sector strain will only increase as the population grows. Shiok is addressing this need and disrupting crustacean production to ensure people can eat clean shrimp, crab and lobster from a safe source. Clean meat production could reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 96 percent, energy consumption by 45 percent, land use by 99 percent, and water consumption by 96 percent.
Shiok Meats was founded in August 2018 by two stem cell scientists, Dr. Sandhya Sriram and Dr. Ka Yi Ling, with over 20 years of combined experience in the muscle, fat, and stem cell biology fields. Shiok’s mission is to produce clean, healthy, cruelty-free seafood. Their cell-based production process is non-GMO and chemical and antibiotic-free.
Dr. Sandhya Sriram, CEO and co-founder of Shiok Meats:
“We are extremely excited to work in partnership with Aqua-Spark as we develop cell-based seafood and meats that are contributing towards a cleaner and healthier seafood industry and solving for the inefficiencies around global protein production. Aqua-Spark was the perfect partner to lead our Series A because they care deeply about funding companies that address planetary health and food security. With their help, we hope to become the global leader in cell-based crustaceans and seafood. We are pleased that Aqua-Spark supports our global impact vision and will be with us for the long haul.”
Shiok stands out from other cell-based meat production companies because of their proprietary technology that isolates stem cells from shrimp, lobster, and crab—they are the first company to be able to do this for cell-based production at the moment. Once the stem cells are harvested, the shrimp, lobster, and crab meats are grown in nutrient-rich conditions, similar to that of a greenhouse. After four-to-six weeks, the cell-based seafood is exactly the same as its conventional counterpart but more sustainable, clean, and nutritious. Shiok’s patent-pending technology can grow crustaceans four times faster than conventional production.
The output of Shiok’s pilot plant will be frozen cell-based shrimp meat for dumplings and other shrimp-based dishes. Beyond cell-based shrimp, Shiok plans to launch shrimp flavouring paste and powder, fully-formed 3D shrimp, and cell-based lobster and crab products in the coming years.
To date, Aqua-Spark has now invested in 20 complementary companies, technologies, and inputs that are working toward the sustainable production of aquatic life.
Launched in 2011, Aqua-Spark is an investment fund with a mission to transform the global aquaculture industry into one that is healthier, more sustainable, and more accessible. They invest in aquaculture companies across the value chain—spanning farming operations, alternative feed ingredients, disease-battling technology, and consumer-facing aquaculture products. These companies are solving some of the industry’s big challenges while bringing returns that are comparable to today’s traditional industry. The portfolio works as an ecosystem, with the companies agreeing to collaborate on optimal solutions, and working together toward this shared vision of a more efficient global aquaculture industry.
Since 2015, the fund has invested in 20 complementary SMEs. Thus far, Aqua-Spark has EUR 152 million in assets under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable. The goal of the fund is to ultimately make sustainability widespread and profitable enough that it becomes the only way to farm fish.
About Shiok Meats
Shiok Meats is a cell-based, clean meat company. It is the first of its kind in Singapore and South-East Asia with a mission to deliver delicious, clean, and healthy seafood by harvesting from cells instead of animals. Shiok Meats is working to bring cell-based crustacean meats (shrimp, crab, lobster) to the kitchen. Their meats are cruelty-free, healthy, and better for the environment with the same taste and texture and more nutrients than their traditional counterparts.