Fish & Seafood

Wanda Fish Unveils its First Cell-Cultivated Bluefin Tuna Toro Sashimi

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Cell-based seafood maker Wanda Fish, Ltd. has introduced its first cultivated bluefin tuna toro sashimi. The creation of this prototype addresses the burgeoning demand for bluefin tuna via a pollution-free, quality-consistent and sustainable supply of the highly sought fish.

The raw toro specialty is composed of the underbelly of the fish. It has the highest fat content, with especially high omega-3 levels. The Ness-Ziona, Israel-based producer’s cell-cultivated sashimi possesses the same sensory features of wild-sourced toro sashimi and is imbued with comparable nutritional richness, especially protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Wanda Fish’s cell-cultivated adaptation of the 3D filet combines the cellular mass of muscle and fat created from the bluefin tuna’s own cells, developed together with a plant-based matrix. Its patent-pending technology to induce native fat formation in bluefin tuna cells and a whole-cut downstream manufacturing process employs a rapid, low-cost, and readily scalable production method. The fat endows the cultivated fish whole cut with not only its velvety texture but also its unique, rich flavor and essential nutrients, including omega-3s.

“A key focus in the creation of our product was achieving the same level of fat marbling as real bluefin toro sashimi to create the same look and mouthfeel,” said Dr. Daphna Heffetz, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Reaching this milestone demonstrates our ability to bring to market a whole-cut bluefin tuna toro filet without harming the ocean or diminishing the population of wild fish. The product is sustainable, and of course free of microplastics, mercury, and other chemical toxins all-too-commonly found in wild catch.”

Malkiel Cohen, vice president of research and development, added: “Our prototype is unique in the cultivated food industry, as there is no cooking or panning of the product. Using multiple bluefin tuna cells to create both muscle and fat and our plant-based 3D design, we capture the essence of a raw fish fillet without preservatives, artificial additives, or GMOs.”

Good for the Fish, Good for Business
Difficult to raise in capivity, Bluefin tuna is regarded as a prized marine delicacy. Overfishing and illegal fishing have prompted governments to place caps on fishing activity by implementing strict fishing quotas, which has also contributed to its premium price. Toro sashimi is a luxury dish served mostly in high-end restaurants across Japan, but is also available in exclusive sushi outlets globally. A single 1 kilo serving can cost US $100 or more.

“Cultivated bluefin tuna is one of those rare food products that makes good business sense,” said Yaron Sfadyah, vice president of business development and marketing for Wanda Fish. “It is in high demand, with limited alternatives that match the taste and texture of the wild fish, and at an ideal price point and distribution model.

“Our scalable platform for producing this premium product, raises its potential to reach price parity with traditionally raised bluefins, speed its journey to the marketplace and maximize profit margins,” added Heffetz. “The start-up will first introduce its tuna in the high-end foodservice sector, with a focus on Japanese cuisine, where sushi and sashimi are traditional features. “Our focus on bluefin tuna as our first product was driven by market needs rather than technology driven.”

About Wanda Fish
Since its inception in 2021, the company has netted a total of $10 million in investment. Last October, it announced its seed round of $7.1 million, with AquaSpark leading the round and joined by additional investors Strauss Group’s The Kitchen Hub, Peregrine Ventures, PICO Venture Partners, MOREVC, and CPT Capital Ventures.