Company News

UMAMI Bioworks and Japan’s Largest Seafood Company Join Forces to Bring Cultivated Seafood to Market

Cultivated seafood company UMAMI Bioworks, previously Umami Meats, announces a business partnership with Maruha Nichiro (TYO: 1333), Japan’s largest seafood company. By joining forces, the companies aim to build the infrastructure of Japan’s cultivated seafood industry.

As part of the agreement, Maruha Nichiro will invest in UMAMI Bioworks, gaining access to its cell cultivation platform for producing and selling cultivated seafood. The partnership also involves a multi-faceted collaboration to scale UMAMI Bioworks’ process.

“a pivotal step in achieving our mission of addressing the challenge of feeding a growing global population”

Mihir Pershad, CEO of UMAMI Bioworks, comments: “Our seminal partnership with Maruha Nichiro, a global leader in crafting beloved food products, is a pivotal step in achieving our mission of addressing the challenge of feeding a growing global population while minimizing environmental impact. We have the development and production technology, but we require experienced partners with global reach that can help us manufacture and deliver cultivated products to consumers.”

umami meats' fish ball dish
© Umami Meats

Early commercialization

Since its launch in 2020, UMAMI Bioworks has been working to develop a cell-cultivation platform to provide a sustainable alternative to endangered fish species, such as the Japanese eel. The company has achieved significant milestones in its cultivating process, including establishing cell lines, creating serum-free media, and a manufacturing system using machine learning and automation to scale its operations.

The company is headquartered in Singapore and recently opened a Tokyo office, announcing expansion plans. With the new investment, it will establish a research and commercial team in Japan.

Maruha Nichiro has been working on joint R&D of cell-cultivated seafood products with domestic companies, and this investment marks its first venture into a foreign cellular agriculture company. By collaborating with UMAMI Bioworks, the company will expand its research and development system, accelerating its processes toward early commercialization of cell-cultivated products.

various fish species laying in ice
© Umami Meats

Seafood supply shortages

According to the statement, Japan’s self-sufficiency rate for seafood remains at a low level of 55%, while the domestic wild-catch volumes have decreased by approximately 65% over the last 30 years. These low fishing rates pose a significant risk to consumers, the Japanese seafood industry, fishermen, and the global economy.

But Maruha Nichiro will have an additional method of producing locally sourced seafood, ensuring a constant supply, alongside fishing and aquaculture, if fish cultivation is successful. Its venture into cell ag is backed by the Japanese government, which announced it would foster cultivated meat businesses by promoting the sector and improving the market.

Maruha Nichiro shares, “As a means to address the anticipated protein supply shortage in the future, Maruha Nichiro highly values UMAMI Bioworks as a business partner as they are focused on establishing the production technology for cell-cultivated seafood products, while sharing our vision to accelerate the commercialization of cellular agriculture.”

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