Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, though the two companies confirmed that Gaia Foods’ technical team will join Shiok Meats to continue development of its cellular red meat products. They’ll sit alongside Shiok Meats’ existing science team, who are working on cultivated shrimp, lobster, crab, and crayfish meats.
Until now, Shiok Meats has marketed itself under the tagline of “Southeast Asia’s first cell-based seafood company.” The acquisition of Gaia Foods — which describes itself as “Southeast Asia’s first cell-based red meat startup” — is “consistent with Shiok Meats’ growth strategy,” which aims to “expand the company’s product range to penetrate the cell-based meat technology markets as quickly as possible,” it said in a statement.
“The alternative protein space is evolving rapidly, and we are very excited to collaborate and integrate with Gaia Foods. They are an incredibly talented technical and scientific team with promising technology to produce 3D-structured and textured meats,” said Shiok Meats co-founder and CEO Sandhya Sriram.
“With both seafood and red meat on our suite of offerings and the recent fundraise from strategic investors, we are ready to power through to commercialization.”
Last month, Shiok Meats closed a round of funding estimated by AFN to be worth around $10 million. New investors joining the round included South Korean food delivery giant Woowa Brothers and food manufacturer CJ CheilJedang, plus Vietnamese seafood exporter Vinh Hoan.
Sriram hinted at further potential M&A activity, as well as additional strategic partnerships like the one Shiok Meats has entered with Japanese cellular ag startup IntegriCulture. [Disclosure: AFN’s parent company AgFunder is an investor in IntegriCulture.]
“Meaningful expansions like these will continue to be one of our priorities,” she said, adding that deals like the Gaia Foods acquisition “[set] an example for a novel way of building and growing a company as part of the accelerating alternative protein industry.”
Gaia Foods was founded in 2019 by biotech experts Vin Srinivas and Hung Nguyen, and by the following October it unveiled its first prototype product: cell-cultured beef slices. The startup has developed a way to produce what it describes as “3D meat” using a “proprietary” technology, for which it claims patent applications are pending.
“Pioneering innovation is at the heart of our industry and the direction in which it is headed. We were the first to launch a cell-based crustacean prototype, while Gaia was the first to demonstrate a structured red meat prototype in Southeast Asia, and that too within less than two years of being founded,” said Ka Yi Ling, co-founder and chief technology officer at Shiok Meats.
“These are significant milestones as far as R&D is concerned, so we are confident that our partnership is strategic for the industry.”