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My type of fish

Posted April 4, 2024
Alexander Gunz
Heptagon Capital

On the final day of his recent business trip to California, your author found himself eating sushi-grade salmon at 9 o’clock in the morning. This, however, was no ordinary salmon. It was an early iteration of cellular salmon, grown in a lab just feet away from where he sampled it. Wildtype, the producer of said products, describes what it is doing as “seafood without the sea.”

During time with the co-founder and Chief Executive of the business, it became clear that Wildtype is not trying to challenge the major incumbent seafood producers. Rather, its purpose is to offer a “clean and accessible” product that complements existing offerings and helps solve the protein shortfall the world will increasingly have to deal with amidst population growth and shrinking available natural resources. Wildtype believes that its product will have natural appeal given it contains zero contaminants, mercury or micro-plastics (in contrast to sea-nurtured salmon) and yet comparable levels of Omega-3 and other nutrients.

Even with these advantages, Wildtype recognises that “we have a lot to do” in terms of convincing consumers regarding the cellular narrative. There is a natural fear of the unknown. For your author, there were zero qualms about sampling the product. As the pictures attest, Wildtype’s salmon looks comparable to rival offerings. He sampled several dishes including a tiradito and a sushi roll (pictured left and right respectively). The former comprised apple wood smoked Wildtype salmon, blood orange tiger’s milk, sea-grapes, sweet potato puree, red onion relish. Meanwhile the latter roll was a composition of Wildtype salmon, avocado, gamtae, creamy yuzu miso, sweet soy glaze. Beyond presentation, the taste was not quite on a par with the real thing, but it does come close and will almost certainly improve. ‘Version two’ of the product, we were told, would contain more flavour and fibre.

Readers won’t be seeing Wildtype products in their supermarkets any time soon, but the expectation is that its sushi-grade salmon will be in selected restaurants (in America) before not too long. A commercial launch of a smoked salmon product may follow. Regulatory approval remains the biggest near-term challenge, but Wildtype is “confident” this should occur in the US before the end of 2025. Discussions are underway in other countries too. The business has already begun to think ahead and has a lease on a larger production plant outside California in order to scale its business. We have long argued for a ‘protein-aisle’ of diverse alternatives to conventional products and believe that Wildtype should have a place on it – particularly once consumers taste its products.

Originally Posted April 4, 2024 – My type of fish

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One thought on “My type of fish”

  • This is like Beyond Meat or Impossible. They have had a tough time getting mass adoption of their products.

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