Scientists are no longer just working on in vitro meat, beef and chicken, but on lab-grown seafood too. Urged by environmental destruction and commercial fishing impact on marine ecosystems, a startup called New Wave Foods is developing artificial shrimp meat in the laboratory.
"Through technology, we are creating seafood that doesn't have to be harvested from this highly vulnerable ecosystem and that is created entirely in our food laboratories. We get inspired by mother nature and recreate what people have been eating for centuries, in a better and more sustainable way" the company explains.
Using a similar approach to the veggie burger that bleeds like real meat, New Wave Foods is employing natural plant ingredients. The team is currently testing different ways of extracting proteins from algae that the crustaceans eat, and mixing them together with protein gels to create a meaty texture with flavorful formulation. So far, they've been able to achieve the shrimp taste, but they are still working on the seafood texture, more difficult to obtain.
Maybe you never thought about it, but out hunger for shrimp is a real problem. Over the past few decades, global production of shrimp has more than tripled, and it’s estimated that we now eat more than 6 million tons of these crustaceans each year.
“Everyone knows animal products aren't sustainable but it's so hard to change peoples' eating habits,” Florian Radke, marketing specialist with New Wave Foods, says. “It is your goal as a company to make this as easy as possible by making the product as close as possible to what people are used to eating, including the change of color of the food when it's cooked.” So, the goal is to create a synthetic shrimp that will taste and feel like the real thing, while also undergoing a grey-pink transition during cooking.
In 2028, when the Bistro In Vitro will open its doors, you might be able to find on the menu - among other dishes - not only Friendly Foie Gras, Dodo Nuggets or Magic Meatballs, but also lab-grown shrimp tempura.