Lab-grown salmon startup looks to scale up

San Francisco-based cellular agriculture startup Wildtype has unveiled the latest prototype of its cell-based salmon. The fish is made with real Coho salmon cells, grown in a brewery-like system in stainless steel tanks. (May 11)

Video Transcript

JUSTIN KOLBECK: So salmon in a lot of ways is America's fish, right? So it's the second most-consumed seafood that we eat as a country, after shrimp. And it's the most consumed fin fish.

Our fish stocks are declining, oceans are warming, the planet's warming up. And there's been a lot of movement toward alternative proteins, right, across the board, as a way to create another choice, another solution, another option for consumers that might be a little bit easier on the planet.

And for us, when we started the company back in 2016, one thing that was missing was seafood. And the reason that's so important is it's our number one source of protein for our species. It's also one of the most nutritious things that we can eat.

Yet, there are all these downsides, right? So it's like eat your seafood, but maybe not so much because it might have a lot of mercury or, you know, antibiotics, or microplastics.

ARYE ELFENBEIN: So we start with the cells of salmon. Basically select for the cells that are able to grow the best, are able to become the same types of structures that we are used to in the salmon we eat. If you think about fish farms, for example, typically a fish will sort of swim around for a couple of years before it's harvested. In our case, it's on the order of weeks. And so, you know, six to eight weeks typically for some of the cuts that we make.

ROSE HA: The texture is so close, you know, the firmness of the fish, the color of the fish, the striations, the oiliness. And it has just this really great clean finish. And you can taste that in the product.

ADAM TORTOSA: Ultimately, I would love to have a restaurant that's open in the future. And for that to happen, we believe like we have to look outside our normal "fishing practices" now.

JUSTIN KOLBECK: But it's not on the market yet, certainly not in any large scale. And so what we're focused on right now is scale and in bringing the cost down so we can make enough, you know, for, let's say, a small restaurant in San Francisco right now, but to have a big impact on the planet that we want to have.