BANGKOK -- Asia has a voracious appetite for seafood, but global fishing stocks are already under critical pressure. To help alleviate this problem, top canned-tuna producer Thai Union Group and Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp. are tying up with BlueNalu, a California startup that cultures seafood from cells.
Thai Union and Mitsubishi have separately signed memorandums of understanding with BlueNalu, the U.S. company has announced. The agreements include "collaborations to conduct market research and develop consumer insights in various regions, assess regulatory requirements, and explore business and product opportunities that could accelerate the introduction of cell-cultured seafood products throughout Asia," it said.
Targeting commercialization in the coming years, BlueNalu has sought partnerships with multinationals in these areas and beyond, including product development and sales.
Alternatives to wild-caught and farmed fish are drawing attention as seafood consumption increases and the global supply fails to keep pace.
The partnerships with Thai Union and Mitsubishi "will help us to accelerate our pathway to commercialization and advance BlueNalu's mission to provide the world with sustainable seafood options," President and CEO Lou Cooperhouse said in a statement.
"Interest is growing in cultured fish meat as sustainable protein," a Mitsubishi spokesperson said, noting that the company will investigate business feasibility and praising BlueNalu's advanced technology.
Thai Union participated in BlueNalu's latest round of financing this past January. The San Diego startup's investors also include Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp.