Seafood is a healthy choice for individuals of all ages— growing children, pregnant women, active adults, and the elderly. In particular, fish is a brilliant source of lean, high-quality, easily digested protein; a 3.5-ounce serving offers almost half of an adult’s day-to-day protein needs for only 100 to 200 calories. Seafood is also low in saturated fat and sodium, is a rich source of many indispensable vitamins and minerals, and is one of the rare foods that contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have many valuable health properties and are vital for the development of the nervous system and retina. Seafood comprises fish such as catfish, salmon, tuna, trout and tilapia, and shellfish such as shrimp, crab, and oysters.
Fish and seafood are a significant part of a healthy diet, yet swelling demands and overfishing in many parts of the world have led to rapid declines of marine fish stocks worldwide. Cultivated fish is a means of meeting demand while reducing pressure on wild fish stocks by growing fish from cells rather than having to catch fish from the ocean. The benefits of cultivated fish have been widely championed by many parts of the world. With good practices, cultivated fish is a safe, sustainable and nutritious source of seafood that can relieve the burden on overfished seafood stocks. Cultivated fish is also often fresher at the time of purchase and processing.
Years of industrialisation and human activity have led to pollution of the ecosphere’s oceans and seas meaning that wild fish and shellfish are exposed to pollutants like heavy metals and microplastics. The level of contamination in wild fish is largely influenced by their diet. While it is not possible to regulate the diet of wild fish and while levels of impurities fluctuate largely by geographical region, the levels of feed contaminants in cultivated fish can be closely checked and measured. Business Touch Magazine has one such well-reputed company Umami Meats Pte Ltd. characterized to its readers.
About Umami Meats
Umami Meats, are pioneering cultivated, ‘not caught’ seafood by crafting delicious, nutritious, and affordable cultivated fish that is better for humanoid health, oceans, and a hale and hearty future. The company is dedicated to regenerating oceans and the planet by enabling consumers to relish their fish and eat it too, starting with IUCN Red Listed species that are difficult to farm and that are being determined extinct by human consumption. Umami Meats cultivated seafood production system enables a stable, resilient, local supply of seafood free from mercury, antibiotics, microplastics, and ocean pollutants.
Umami Meats’ B2B platform approach is not only unique in the cultivated seafood space but it enables the industry to transition rapidly to producing cultivated fish. Further, their focus on endangered species and those that cannot be produced sustainably by other means is a deliberate choice that they made because these species are by now facing supply shortages and are at significant risk of being driven extinct by human consumption unless the company helped to develop alternative production methods.
In an early-stage Umami Meats, continued to innovate and improve upon the state-of-the-art which remains critical till now and will remain relevant in the years ahead. It is believed that there are more years of rapid development ahead before the cultivated protein industry starts to mature. The company’s B2B strategy enables them to focus on continuous process and input improvement that they believe will help their customers to remain at the forefront in the years ahead.
Key suppliers of Umami Meats include companies that produce cell culture media, bioreactors, and other critical instruments and feed stocks for cultivated seafood production. As a B2B company that has aspirations to scale rapidly around the world, developing strong relationships with suppliers and co-development partners is a critical aspect of Umami Meats’ strategy. They aim to build strong relationships by bringing these partners along with them on the journey of developing the product and providing unparalleled transparency to partners every step of the way.
About Founder & CEO of Umami Meats, Mihir Pershad
After completing his graduation with a degree in biochemistry from the University of North Carolina, Mihir Pershad joined a venture studio called Early Charm Ventures. There, he led IP evaluation and in-licensing, new company formation, and capital raises for the new ventures. He helped build several businesses serving the aquaculture sector, from on-farm disease diagnostics and oral vaccines to feed management tools and learned about the challenges facing aquaculture in the decades ahead.
After building companies serving the aquaculture industry for 3+ years, Mihir recognized that significant changes were required if we are to feed 10 billion people by 2050 while also dealing with the impacts of climate change and decreasing wild catch. He decided to launch a company to address such a challenge because he had seen the supply chain and production problems first-hand and believed the insights gained from his experience would assist to build the kind of company that could help transform the industry for the coming century.
Mihir Pershad says – “Our goal is to build an ingredient brand like “Intel inside” that enables consumers to purchase with confidence knowing that they’re buying a quality product when it’s based on our process and our inputs even when they’re buying in different countries or in new product categories.”
The best part of his job according to Mihir Pershad is working with people who are deeply passionate about fashioning a more sustainable world while solving critical challenges that will help put food on the table for billions of people in the near future and for many years to come. He feels incredibly privileged to work with such brilliant and dedicated individuals to solve high-impact problems while assisting to create a more sustainable future for humanity.
Leadership style of Mihir Pershad
“My goal as a leader is to provide clarity, context, and a sense of direction to my team and to empower them with the freedom and resources to make the best decisions they believe will help to achieve those outcomes.”
Like building a world-class athletic team, Mihir Pershad believes that building a great company requires leaders who know their role is that of coach and not of player. The coach’s job is to bring world-class people together, to create a shared vision, build a strategy to make the most of their collective strengths, and to then give them the freedom to go on the pitch and execute, make their own judgement calls, and adapt to changes that strategy cannot predict.
Umami Meats Mission
Mission – To serve as a gateway for evolution that builds on our deep oceanic heritage to create a healthier, more sustainable and flavourful future for all.
Early on, our strategy shifted from an input provider to a platform approach because we realized that our most interesting prospective consumers don’t know much about cell culture, especially in fish. Rather than selling individual components like cell lines or growth media, Umami Meats is now developing a more holistic plug-and-play platform that can enable traditional suppliers to adopt a cultivated production line rapidly and with a minimum of cell culture expertise. This new approach has required a substantial shift in thinking, as Umami Meats is now developing with food producers in mind rather than companies with significant biotechnology expertise.
Greatest achievements and future plans of Umami Meats
So far, Umami Meats had multiple significant accomplishments both on the technical and commercial sides. They have been able to establish the first stem cells from fish that can produce muscle, fat, and connective tissue from one stem cell type. They’ve also developed a feedstock for the cells that is low-cost, sustainable, and 100% animal component-free. Commercially, they have signed engagements with their first strategic partners who along with Umami will bring initial products to market and support scaling up production.
Umami Meats’ key areas of focus will be scaling the process from the benchtop to the pilot facility, developing the first commercial products in collaboration with their strategic partners, building their first pilot plant, and pursuing regulatory approval in Singapore and other key global markets.
A piece of advice
An outstanding piece of advice Mihir Pershad received which helped him to move on this path of success is that – “Most people regret the opportunities they didn’t take rather than the ones they did that didn’t work out. As an entrepreneur, it helps me to remember that sometimes playing it too safe can be a risk in itself and that choosing not to decide is a choice as well. Making big bets with conviction and executing at break-neck speed is the one major advantage that start-ups have” and this advice has helped him to keep focus even when the decisions appeared daunting.