In a significant move towards sustainable seafood, Steakholder Foods (Nasdaq: STKH) has introduced a 3D printed eel that promises to make waves in the niche 3D printed fake meats industry. The initial eel offering is plant-based, with future plans to incorporate cultivated eel cells, offering a potential solution to the challenges faced by the traditional eel industry, including declining wild eel populations, complex breeding processes, regulatory hurdles, and illegal poaching. This breakthrough shows Steakholder Foods’ ability to mimic the intricate texture of eel through precision layering and its proprietary 3D printing technology.
Steakholder Foods’ 3D printing process is a game-changer in seafood production. Using their cutting-edge technology, they can significantly reduce the ingredients required for their 3D printed eel, setting it apart from typical plant-based alternatives. This means their eel is not only delicious but also environmentally friendly. With a focus on sustainability and alignment with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Steakholder Foods is leading the charge in reshaping the future of seafood.
Valued at $4.3 billion in 2022, the global eel market is grappling with numerous challenges. Overexploitation due to high demand, the risk of extinction for various eel species, and the complex breeding difficulties encountered in eel farms have collectively pushed the traditional eel industry to the brink. Regulatory hurdles imposed to protect eel populations have created additional obstacles for eel producers, making it increasingly challenging to operate within the industry. Furthermore, the persistent issues of illegal poaching and black-market trading make this problem worse, particularly in countries with a strong culinary tradition of eel consumption, such as Japan. These challenges have raised concerns about the long-term viability of traditional eel farming practices.
Steakholder Foods aims to become a savior, offering an innovative and sustainable alternative to wild eel. With its 3D printed eel, the firm wants to reimagine the industry. By reducing production costs, they aim to make their technology accessible to partners and customers, helping them navigate the challenges linked to global eel prices.
According to Steakholder Foods CEO Arik Kaufman, “The launch of our printed eel marks a pivotal moment in the seafood industry, showcasing the vast potential of our DropJet technology – Steakholder Foods’ solution for fish and seafood printing. This technology is designed to enable partners to generate products on a potential industrial scale of hundreds of tons monthly, not only at lower costs compared to wild eel but also with the flexibility to create a variety of printed products using the same production line. Such versatility could significantly boost profitability for food companies and lead the way to a shift towards more efficient and sustainable practices in the industry. This product exemplifies the broader possibilities our technology offers our partners.”
Founded as a deep-tech food company, Steakholder Foods is headquartered in Rehovot, Israel, and leads the way in 3D printing meat and cultured meat. It began its journey in 2019, focusing on developing plant-based printed products and slaughter-free solutions for producing cellular agriculture meat products. Their mission is to closely mimic the taste, texture, and appearance of traditional meat, offering a sustainable alternative to industrialized farming and fishing.
The latest launch of the 3D printed eel by Steakholder Foods is a culmination of extensive efforts and strategic collaborations. A precursor to this achievement was a $1 million grant from the Singapore Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD). This grant significantly propelled the startup’s plans, enabling it to develop 3D printed structured eel and grouper products in partnership with Singaporean-cultivated seafood startup Umami Meats. This preceding event played a crucial role in paving the way for Steakholder Foods to reach its current milestone with the 3D printed eel, marking a pivotal moment in the seafood industry.
Steakholder Foods is actively exploring collaborations to commercialize its plant-based, printed eel by offering proprietary 3D printers and ink capable of generating revenues in the short term. Based on Steakholder Foods’ current technology capabilities, it estimates that its partners and customers will be able to mass-produce 3D printed eel at a competitive price range, enabling them to tackle the cost challenges linked to the current global prices of eel. The plan is to meet the demands of the global eel market while championing sustainability and innovation.
As Steakholder Foods aptly puts it, they are making the future of food accessible. Reducing ingredient use creates what it describes as a “delicious 3D printed eel” and contributes to a greener planet.
In addition to its pioneering work in 3D printed eels, Steakholder Foods has made significant strides in cultivated meat technology. One of its key innovations is its multiple-nozzle modular printing head, designed in-house, which can produce complex meat products with remarkable precision and industrial production rates without compromising cell viability. This technology can potentially reshape the mass production of cultured meats using cells and biomaterials. Steakholder has also introduced an industrial-scale printer and secured its first US-granted patent for manipulating cultivated muscle tissue. In 2022, Steakholder Foods made headlines with the proof of concept for Omakase Beef Morsels, a highly marbled 3D printed cultured beef cut designed for premium dining experiences. The company’s latest eel meats represent a significant step in its 2023 commercialization strategy, industry collaborations, and sustainability.
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