Efficient and cost-effective cultivated fish production will require precise optimization to encourage fast proliferation and highly efficient use of inputs while preventing premature differentiation. A variety of strategies can be employed to adjust various factors that contribute to these properties, including optimizing the starting cell line, improving the composition of the proliferation medium, and exploring the possibility of transdifferentiating easy-to-grow cell lines like fibroblasts into myogenic and adipogenic lineages.
To date, no robust environmental assessments have been conducted to compare alternative seafood to its conventional counterparts. An open-access, quantitative analysis of the relative environmental impacts of alternative seafood will help garner support for the industry from policymakers, nonprofit organizations, consumers, investors, foodservice outlets, and retailers.
Cultivated seafood will need to be supplemented with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to be nutritionally equivalent or superior to conventional seafood. However, how these compounds can best be incorporated has not been determined, and there are several potentially-viable strategies. Further research is needed to determine which strategies are most cost-effective and scalable and whether there are appreciable differences between methods in the quality of the final product.
Affordable animal-free omega-3 ingredients for alternative seafood and other alternative protein applications
In order to appeal to health-conscious consumers, alternative seafood products should contain similar omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, content to conventional seafood. Animal-free omega-3 ingredients can be expensive and supply can be inconsistent. Scaling up animal-free omega-3 production is critical to the success of the global alternative seafood market, which is seeing increased attention and promising growth. Adding omega-3 to other alternative protein products could also provide a great point of differentiation while improving health appeal.
As the alternative seafood industry scales up, a low-cost and abundant source of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids will become necessary. Several means of producing these compounds have been investigated and commercialized, but additional innovation is needed to build a robust and scalable supply chain. Methods that would benefit from additional research include precision fermentation and cell-free systems.
Preventing oxidation of omega-3 fatty acids before and after addition to alternative seafood products
Deeper fundamental knowledge of the causes and prevention of oxidation of omega-3 fatty acids before, during, and after addition to alternative seafood products is needed to improve their nutritional and organoleptic properties. While several approaches to prevent oxidation of unsaturated lipids in conventional seafood products have been developed, antioxidation methods must be tailored to the formulations and processing of alternative seafood products, or perhaps new methods must be developed altogether.
- Bioprocess design
- Crop development
- End product formulation & manufacturing
- End Products
- Host strain development
- Ingredient optimization
- Raw Materials, Ingredients, & Inputs
- Target molecule selection
Although fish are one of the best dietary sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (FAs), these compounds are mostly bioaccumulated from a fish’s diet rather than synthesized de novo. Consistent with this, studies have found evidence of reduced omega-3 content in fish as a result of replacing fish-based feed with plant-based feed. Therefore, for cultivated fish to compete with conventionally-produced products, it will be necessary to identify cost-effective strategies for increasing the content of nutritionally-important omega-3 FAs in cultivated fish.
A number of published studies have focused on scaffolds for cultivated meat (see Related Efforts) yet, to our knowledge, no studies have specifically attempted to formulate scaffolds for fish or tested growth of fish cells on scaffolds developed for terrestrial meat. Because fish uniquely differ from terrestrial meat in structure, research aimed specifically at developing and testing scaffolds for fish products would advance the industry. Both scaffolding materials as well as methods for achieving the correct three-dimensional structure should be investigated.
Given the nascent market for cultivated meats, especially for cultivated seafood, a “Rainbow Roll 2.0” product could be an attractive market-entry commercial product.
Creating an online, open-access decision matrix tool that ranks popular seafood-relevant species against each other based on several criteria such as market size, per-unit price, sustainability of conventional production practices, animal welfare considerations, and consumer receptivity to alternative seafood products of that species.