SINGAPORE — Fish fillets and even fish maw made from cell culture instead of slaughter could soon appear on dinner tables here, with Chinese company Avant preparing to open a pilot production facility of fish cells cultured in Singapore by next year.
This facility, announced by the company on Monday, September 20, will come alongside a research lab from Avant and the Institute for Bioprocessing Technology of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star ), which focuses on how to expand the production of food-grade farmed fish.
The joint farmed fish bioprocessing research laboratory will be located at Biopolis in Buona Vista, the biomedical hub of Singapore.
Avant and A*Star said in a statement that research at the lab will focus on developing solutions that will scale up the production of cultured fish cells.
This includes, for example, identifying key factors that affect cell growth in cultured fish, as well as processes to improve it.
Avant, which develops technologies for culturing fish cells, has already successfully produced products such as fish fillets, marine peptides and fish maw via cell culture.
He will combine his expertise in the field with the capabilities of the A*Star Institute in the research and development of bioprocesses, including animal cell bioprocessing.
Ms. Carrie Chan, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Avant, said, “The collaboration will accelerate breakthroughs in methods for optimizing the cell culture process for meat production. It will achieve process efficiency and cost reduction initially for fish cells.
She added that knowledge gained from research in this area can also potentially be applied to the culture of other cell types.
Several research groups in Singapore are studying the cultivation of different animal cells for use in food, including chicken, pork and seafood, amid growing global interest in alternative proteins and how they can help reduce the massive carbon footprint of raising livestock for food.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the livestock sector produces about 15% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
But to date, only one of these cell culture products – chicken bites grown by California-based start-up Eat Just – has received regulatory approval to be sold in Singapore. These products have not yet been approved by any other regulatory authority in the world.
Cultured meat refers to meat products made from growing animal cells in a bioreactor – similar to the vats used for brewing beer – instead of slaughtering the animals. The cells are taken from the animal by methods such as a biopsy.
Such a method of meat production is considered more sustainable because large volumes can be produced using less land and labor.