BlueNalu, a San Diego, California-based company engaged in developing a variety of seafood products directly from fish cells, has signed of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with two leading seafood providers in Asia, Bangkok-headquartered Thai Union and Tokyo-headquartered Mitsubishi Corporation.
The collaborations represent a mutual interest in the commercialization of cell-cultured seafood in Asia and a commitment to sustainable seafood to meet rising demand. Global consumption of fishery products is at an all-time high and continues to increase, particularly in Asia, outpacing the growth in population. Current seafood production from wild-caught and farm-raised sources cannot keep pace with demand according to the United Nations, which projects a supply chain gap representing 28 million metric tons of new seafood production will be needed by 2030. Cell-cultured seafood is seen as a third solution that can help meet that demand.
The independent agreements with Thai Union (which also participated in BlueNalu’s latest round of financing in January which raised $60 million in debt financing from a number new and existing investors) and with Mitsubishi include collaborations to conduct market research and develop consumer insights in various regions, assess regulatory requirements, and explore business and product opportunities that could accelerate the introduction of cell-cultured seafood products throughout Asia. The startup company’s business strategy is to partner with leading multinationals on market research, regulatory affairs, product design and development, manufacturing, marketing, sales and distribution, with an aim to efficiently and effectively bring BlueNalu’s branded cell-cultured seafood products to consumers worldwide in the coming years.
Strategic investments have been made by Pulmuone, a South Korean food company rooted in the principles of nutrition and sustainability, and Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, an integrated global trading company with diversified holding in businesses involved in manufacturing and marketing of consumer products headquartered in Japan.
“We are excited by the collaborations with Mitsubishi Corporation and Thai Union, as these will help us to accelerate our pathway to commercialization and advance BlueNalu’s mission to provide the world with sustainable seafood options that could provide so many benefits for consumers, our ocean and our planet,” said Lou Cooperhouse, president and chief executive officer of BlueNalu.
Furthering the company’s commitment to the Asia market, and Japan in particular, BlueNalu recently joined the Cellular Agriculture Study Group of the Center for Rulemaking Strategies (CRS) at Tama University in Tokyo, a consortium of professionals from academia, industry and government regulatory agencies investigating pathways to bring cell-cultured foods to market in Japan.
BlueNalu’s technology platform is designed to allow it to produce a wide array of seafood products from a variety of seafood species.
“I see tremendous opportunity for BlueNalu to provide seafood that is 100% yield with consistent, year-round supply,” said Roy Yamaguchi, celebrity chef, BlueNalu investor and advisory board member, and founder of Roy Yamaguchi Group of Restaurants. “I’ll be excited to watch the company’s cell-cultured seafood enter Asian cuisine, providing valuable benefits to both chefs and consumers in countries where seafood plays a key role in culinary culture.”
BlueNalu began in 2018 when its co-founders first met in Hawaii to discuss an opportunity to create an innovative company that will transform the global seafood industry. As a noun, the Hawaiian word nalu most commonly refers to the waves and surf of the moana – the ocean. As a verb, it means meditate, ponder, contemplate. “Nalu it” is also street slang in the islands, for “go with the flow,” but be mindful at the same time.