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50 Most Admired Companies of the Year 2022

Sustainable practices: Umami Meats is cultivating healthier, affordable, and delicious seafood while protecting our oceans


“Our fish cell biology lead has two decades of experience developing fish cell lines and helped build the world’s first fish cell bank.”

The increasing demand for high-quality sources of protein to feed the Earth’s several billion people is outpacing what we can sustainably supply. This leads the industry entrepreneurs to look more into the field of cultivated meat and seafood. With oceans at risk, cell-based seafood provides a unique opportunity to transform the sustainability landscape. Cultivated seafood companies are not just creating a product designed to mimic the sensory and nutritional profiles of meat, but are instead creating genuine meat made of animal cells. Consumption of cultivated seafood will significantly reduce the demand for fishing of threatened species and industrial fish farming and will provide a great opportunity for humans to restore the ecological vibrancy of the planet.

Umami Meats is one such company that is working to ensure that alternative seafood maximally benefits the health of our oceans through cultivated seafood. The company is cultivating a sustainable seafood future by producing delicious, nutritious, affordable cultivated seafood that is better for our health, our oceans, and our future. Umami Meats' cultivated, not-caught seafood offers equivalent nutrition to traditional seafood and provides a delicious culinary experience that is free from heavy metals, antibiotics, and microplastics.

Mihir Pershad, founder and CEO of Umami Meats, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review about how his company is cultivating the future of sustainable seafood.

The rise of Umami Meats

After spending over three years building university spinouts with a focus on technologies to help aquaculture farms manage to feed and disease challenges, Mihir Pershad felt that a more ambitious approach was needed to break out of the evolutionary 'arms race' that traditional animal agriculture is fighting against pathogens. That is when he decided to start Umami Meats to enable this step change in food production.

Since then, Umami Meats has evolved from supplying inputs to developing an 'operating system' for cultivated seafood that enables traditional seafood producers and food manufacturers to craft cultivated fish at scale under their owned, local brands. "We recognized that industry maturity would only come with significant scale and that complete solutions enabling that scale are missing today. To produce 50 percent more seafood by 2050, we’ll need not just the advancements of new industry innovators but also the resources, distribution networks, and scale of the traditional industry. Our goal at Umami Meats is to be the 'Intel Inside' in the cultivated industry, creating the operating system and firmware needed for the industry to scale efficiently and to produce delicious, nutritious seafood for consumers worldwide."

Disrupting the cultivated seafood sector

Umami Meats is creating a future in which it sustainably feeds humanity in harmony with nature. The company is setting new standards in the cultivated seafood sector by partnering with leading food manufacturing brands and by utilizing advanced and novel cell cultivation technology to offer affordable products. When asked about their services and technology platform, Mihir Pershad stated, "Our goal is to develop the operating system for cell cultivation, starting with cultivated fish. We intend to partner with food manufacturers and seafood brands to provide them with licenses to our technology so they can produce a variety of seafood products at affordable prices. To achieve this goal, we recognized early on that developing low-cost inputs and processes would be critical to achieving our goal of powering a revolution in sustainable seafood. Reducing input and production costs makes our process valuable to a broader range of partners while also reducing our development costs. To this end, we are developing cell lines from several high-value species, low-cost feedstock (called growth media), and production processes to make cultivated seafood at a large scale using our inputs and processes. We aim to co-develop product applications with strategic partners to enable them to produce localized seafood products using our technology. We want to be the go-to providers for new product development and production technology that help to bring cultivated seafood products to consumers around the world."


"The pillars of our tech platform include novel fish cell lines, low-cost growth media, improved production processes, and machine learning. Our novel cell lines are unique stem cells that can produce both muscle and fat, allowing us to produce a versatile range of seafood products in a single manufacturing line. Our low-cost growth media is extracted from food crop side streams and marine algae and replaces the traditional fetal bovine serum (FBS) while also promoting rapid and healthy cell growth. Our supplement can be produced at less than $1 per liter at a pilot scale compared to $1000 per liter for FBS, is animal-component free, and supports the growth of many fish cell lines from a variety of species. Using machine learning, we are able to rapidly optimize the production conditions and to streamline bioprocesses to make our system twice as efficient as traditional bioprocesses currently used."

Team of experts

The Umami Meats team brings together decades of technical expertise in fish cell biology, stem cell culture, and bioprocess engineering with deep experience in commercializing new technologies and establishing strategic partnerships. "Our fish cell biology lead has two decades of experience developing fish cell lines and helped build the world’s first fish cell bank while our head of media development specialized in stem cell biology and led early development for another startup before joining us."


"We are in the early scale-up phase now and moving rapidly toward the first commercial launch. We are planning to continue scaling up over the next 18 months and to have the first products commercialized in 2024. In our view, the road to market will next involve building a technical demonstrator facility to validate the scale-up approach and integrate our full production process into a unified footprint. In parallel, we will also be working with traditional food producers and seafood companies as co-development partners to create fish products that are localized for the markets in which these products will launch."

"We intend to pursue regulatory approval in Singapore during the scale-up phase, enabling us to conduct small-scale market tests with these products while we are building our first commercial pilot plant. Beyond the pilot, we anticipate scaling production localized to each key market through partnerships with traditional seafood producers and food manufacturers and anticipate having the first of these facilities under construction by 2025."

About | Mihir Pershad

Mihir Pershad is the Founder and CEO of Umami Meats. He has an academic background in protein biochemistry and has spent his career working to commercialize deep tech innovations to address humanity's grand challenges. Most recently, he was a Venture Partner at Early Charm Ventures, where he led the commercialization of university spinouts at the intersection of biotechnology and aquaculture. Mr. Pershad is also the author of Cultivated Abundance, a book that outlines a framework for entrepreneurs to leverage transformative technologies to build an inspiring, abundant future for humanity.

“Our novel cell lines are unique stem cells that can produce both muscle and fat, allowing us to produce a versatile range of seafood products in a single manufacturing line.”