- Steakholder Foods, an Israeli cultivated meat company, has created “the world’s first” plant-based 3D-printed eel.
- Using a “unique combination of materials,” and a “precise layering technique,” the company has created a proprietary technology that it says replicates an eel with a significantly less amount of product compared to other plant-based alternatives.
- The Israeli firm said that it is now looking to commercialize its plant-based printed product with collaborations through providing proprietary 3D printers and ink.
The plant-based eel is currently being printed from plant materials, with plans to incorporate cultivated eel cells in the future.
The amount of material used to create the product could potentially position Steakholder Foods' “at the forefront of the industry,” according to the company. The company’s printing process allows for a reduction in ingredients compared to typical plant-based alternatives in its 3D-printed product, according to the company.
The global eel market was valued at $4.3 billion in 2022 and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 2.19%. The industry relies on wild eel and faces several challenges including overexploitation and the risk of extinction, particularly in Japan which accounts for a major portion of global eel consumption, according to the company.
A recent report from McKinsey & Company revealed that demand for seafood as a protein source has surged, while supply lags.
Alternative seafood sources could be a solution to this imbalance, but the space faces many of the same challenges as other alternative protein sources like plant- based chicken and beef — price and customer acceptance.
Pioneers in the space of cultivated seafood believe the technology used to create this alternative protein source is the solution.
“This technology is designed to enable partners to generate products on a potential industrial scale of hundreds of tons monthly, not only at lower costs compared to wild eel,” said Arik Kaufman, CEO of Steaknolder Foods in a statement.
Other emerging companies in the space include Konscious Foods, who launched the first plant-based sushi line in Whole Foods with products including nigiri and poke bowls, and Good Catch which was the first vegan seafood brand to launch in 2021, and acquired by Wicked Kitchen in 2022.