New Clean-Meat Startup Enters Race to End Fish Slaughter

San Diego startup BlueNalu received substantial funding from New Crop Capital to bring its cultured mollusks, crustaceans, and finned fish to market.

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New San Diego-based food-technology startup BlueNalu announced this week that it raised substantial funding from mission-driven investment group New Crop Capital. The company will use the funding to create clean meat (meat grown in a lab-setting from a small amount of animal cells), particularly products that aim to replace animal-based seafood such as finned fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. “Consumers worldwide have become increasingly aware of the challenges that exist in our fishing and seafood industry,” BlueNalu co-founder Lou Cooperhouse, who previously served as executive director of the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center, said. “BlueNalu intends to disrupt the current industry practice, in which fish are farmed or wild-caught. Instead, we plan to produce real seafood products directly from fish cells, in a way that is healthy for people, humane for animals, and sustainable for our planet.” While BlueNalu has yet to disclose the specific details of how its technology, the company will not use “serum”-based media (or growth liquid derived from animal blood) to grow its clean-meat products. Similar clean-meat startups such as Finless Foods and Wild Type are working to lower the price of slaughter-free fish products to equal its traditionally raised counterparts, which Finless Foods estimates it can achieve by 2019. “There’s room for multiple players in this market,” Cooperhouse told media outlet Foodnavigator-USA. “The global canned tuna market alone is worth something like $15 billion, so imagine if you just captured 10 percent of that.” Companies around the world are working to create clean meat in categories such as pork, beef, and poultry, with California-based technology startup JUST planning a debut of its first product this year.