New Wave Foods Developing Algae-Based Shrimp Meat
New Wave Foods, a recent startup, announced that it is developing artificial shrimp meat in a laboratory from algae.
The research and goal of the startup is based on the environmental damage that commercial and large-scale fishing has brought on. Similar to the Israeli foundation that is working on research for cultured chicken breast, the reasoning is a response to the havoc commercial farming has caused. Jennifer Kaehms, CEO of New Wave, stated:
“If you look at seafood, you have to look at the food miles, how it’s being caught, and there’s a lot of mislabeling. We’re really focusing on sustainable seafood, that’s our core motivation.”
Kaehms graduated from the University of California San Diego with a bio-engineering degree and originally planned to focus on shark fins after Dominique Barnes, New Wave co-founder and oceanography graduate, told her about what the process to acquire them entails. Kaehms and Barnes decided to go ahead with shrimp for the initial project, and together with Michelle Wolf, the company’s lead engineer, applied to IndieBio, a science-focused startup provider, and were accepted. They had $250,000 to work with and lab space in order to launch their startup, and began ealy in October.
The New Wave team are currently testing different methods of isolating the proteins found in algae that the shrimps themselves eat. The proteins would then be mixed with different protein gels in order to form the meat. According to the startup, in terms of taste the work has been a success so far, but attaining the specific texture of shrimp is still a challenge. Kaehms explained the process:
“I like to use the analogy of kneading bread. If you knead bread too long it becomes really firm and if you don’t knead it long enough, it can be too soft. So the way we mix it and align the protein gels gives it its texture.”
All the startups that IndieBio have accepted will present their first products in early February, and New Wave Foods will be among them, debuting their plant-based shrimp then, and revealing, as Kaehms stated, their “secret sauce”!
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