Malaysia well placed to tap potential of sustainable seafood production
17 Jul 2023
Umami Meats, a pioneering company in the cultivated food industry, highlighted the untapped economic potential of sustainable seafood production in Malaysia
Umami Meats CEO & founder Mihir Pershad said that cultivated products could capture 10% of the fish market globally within the next 10 to 15 years.
“This represents a significant production volume. Umami Meats expects the Malaysian market to contribute substantially to this growth,” he told SunBiz.
Mihir said Malaysia already has a well-established biomanufacturing industry, providing a talent pool and know-how that can be leveraged for the growth of sustainable seafood production.
“Malaysia and Singapore are focused on increasing domestic food supply. This government mindset leads to the creation of support structures, such as tax incentives and skills training programmes, which facilitate the easier launch and scaling of production.
“Another advantage for Malaysia lies in its potential to serve as a regional producer. With a strong halal certification system, Malaysia can tap into the demand, catering not only to domestic consumers but also to neighbouring countries where such certification is highly desired,” he said.
With its focus on addressing food security concerns and promoting a healthier, environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional fishing practices, Umami Meats aims to revolutionise the food market.
Mihir said that by producing food closer to consumers, shorter and more resilient supply chains are created, mitigating disruptions like Covid-19 and other supply chain challenges.
“Unlike traditional seafood, this innovative approach significantly reduces carbon emissions as the fish no longer need to be transported. Furthermore, it allows for the creation of seafood free from harmful contaminants such as mercury and microplastics which addresses growing consumer concerns about food safety,” he added.
However, regulatory challenges remain a significant hurdle for the industry as regulators are still exploring and understanding the cultivated food sector, requiring data to support the safety and efficacy of these products.
“Umami Meats is engaged in discussions with regulators in Singapore, Japan, Europe, and Malaysia to address these challenges and establish appropriate regulatory frameworks,” Mihir said.
He highlighted the importance of government support in defining clear regulatory pathways to foster the growth of the cultivated food market.
“By ensuring that these facilities are designed with all the necessary considerations in mind, the government can facilitate a smooth and compliant transition,” he said.
He explained that consumer education and awareness are paramount.
“Taking a cue from Singapore’s successful approach, efforts should be made to educate individuals of all ages about the necessity of transforming our protein system and adopting new methods of food production.
“This awareness will help people understand that novel foods are part of the solution and alleviate any concerns or uncertainties they may have about these new technologies,” said Mihir.
Umami Meats is collaborating with Malaysia’s Cell AgriTech for the construction of its first cultivated meat production plant in Penang, set to be completed by the end of 2024 with a total investment of RM20 million. The collaboration aims to create the right cultivated products for the Malaysian market and potentially expand to other regions.
Mihir said Umami Meats is confident that it will have products on the market by 2025, with the possibility of a limited commercial production launch by the end of 2024. The company’s business model, he added, allows for rapid scalability through partnerships with multiple manufacturers worldwide.
Umami Meats focuses on cultivating endangered species such as eel, grouper, red snapper and tuna.
“These species cannot be commercially farmed, yet face growing consumer demand. By targeting species with higher market value, Umami Meats aims to achieve price parity with conventionally sourced meat,” Mihir said.
Source: The Sun Daily