Salmon, Trout and Carp Ride Waves of Cell-Based Seafood Success, Says Bluu Biosciences Co-Founder

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Aug 06, 2021 — The cellular industry has grown tremendously over the past three years, and the space continues to gain momentum. Berlin-based Bluu Biosciences is stepping up production of the world’s most popular edible fish species: Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and carp. Dr. Sebastian Rakers, co-founder and scientific director, tells FoodIngredientsFirst how the company “optimizes its cell lines for omega 3, fat content and superior nutrition” in the field of cell-based seafood.

Bluu Biosciences aims to produce a sustainable alternative at competitive costs – not to serve a small elite but to make a significant contribution to securing the future supply of animal protein at large.

“Our future product line will include both hybrid products composed of cell-based fish and plant proteins in popular formats such as fish balls, or fish fingers and structured fish fillets,” explains he does.

“Unstructured or hybrid products are easier to produce than defined pieces like a steak or a fish fillet. “

This is because it requires cell types that are defined differently, such as muscle cells, fat cells, and connective tissue cells, and 3D growth that looks like the original, he notes.

Click to enlargeA lab photo from Bluu Biosciences shows a cryocontainer and a cell sample being removed.“If you compare cell-based meat and cell-based fish, cell-based fish has its advantages: it can be produced at lower temperatures and requires less oxygen, which is beneficial in the process. large-scale production. In addition, its structure is less complex, which is important for product development.

Reproductive cells
Bluu Biosciences is able to use proprietary technologies and immortalized non-GMO cell lines for production. Cells in a line can reproduce multiple times without performing a new biopsy, which is essential for scaling in the production process.

According to Rakers, “the basis of every cell line is a biopsy from a live fish for which the fish does not necessarily have to die.”

Bluu Biosciences has established several cell lines from adult tissue biopsies, from which we have chosen the best characterized and fast growing for its strategy of creating cell-based fish products.

“The cell mass develops in the bioreactor, which will then be harvested and processed for the development of the final product,” he adds.

“As part of this evolving space, we want the entire community to thrive. That is why we are looking for intensive collaboration with other companies, ”explains Rakers.

Intensify cellular activity
Rakers believes that five years from now, consumer acceptance of cell-based fishery products will be much higher as demand for sustainably produced products continues to grow. Click to enlargeHigh-quality, sustainable fish products from cell cultures have a high nutritional value and a premium flavor profile.

“By then, we will have gained significant market share as a restaurant supplier for hybrid products composed of a mixture of cellular components and plant proteins, and we will have our first pure cell-based fish fillet. on the way to the market. “

He points out that the cellular space has seen significant growth over the past three years, including the first regulatory approval of chicken meat grown in Singapore.

“Currently, more than 80 start-ups are working on the development of cultured meat and seafood and more and more are entering the space, including multinational life science companies, which are creating dedicated business units for provide cellular protein companies.

In addition, investors are beginning to understand and appreciate the potential of this technology and its vast market opportunities.

“As a result, investment activity is increasing rapidly – from millions to billions. This is essential for advancing science and entering the high end. We are seeing a rapidly growing market because the future belongs to products made in a circular economy, ”says Rakers.

Sustainable production
Cell-based fish is technically the same as conventionally produced fish but, instead of slaughtering a whole fish, real fish meat is produced from fish cell lines.

In many parts of the world, fish is the most consumed source of protein. But as demand increases as the world’s population grows, stocks are dwindling due to overfishing or have been exploited to the fullest.

“As the product will be free of preservatives, antibiotics, lead and other animal products except pure fish, it will also be an alternative for consumers who are primarily concerned with a conscious lifestyle. and sustainable, ”says Rakers.

Additionally, cell-based fish can also be an alternative source of protein for flexitarians or vegetarians who avoid animal products for ethical or environmental reasons.

Exploitation in the seafood industry
“Environmental pollution as well as unintentional, unreported and often unused bycatch in fisheries, as well as the growing need for medical treatment as part of the intensification of intensive aquaculture, are unsustainable options to consider. long term. “

Click to enlargeThe Bluu Biosciences team is optimizing its cell lines for future products.“Two trillion fish were killed by humans in 2018,” Rakers continues. “The handling, with fish being choked or crushed to death by other fish in nets, and slaughter is incredibly cruel.

Cellular fish provide a viable answer to these challenges, he says.

Emergence of catch-free
Industry players are teaming up to develop the ideal color, flavor, texture and nutritional profile for seafood alternatives.

In June, Protein Industries Canada launched a project with New School Foods and Liven Proteins to develop plant-based seafood.

Meanwhile, Finless Foods, a pioneer in cell-culture seafood, recently expanded its product portfolio to include a plant-based tuna offering.

Additionally, seafood from cell culture is poised to experience “significant growth” in Asia.

Last April, BlueNalu partnered with Thai Union and Mitsubishi Corporation to accelerate a market development strategy for the new variety of foods in the region.

By Elizabeth Green

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