Reinventing Salmon – Craig Medred

wild type

Coming soon to a restaurant near you, freshly made salmon.

Or, more accurately, as soon as the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decides to call you.

San Francisco-based Wildtype has said it’s ready to go to market with its tub-grown “sushi grade” salmon as soon as the FDA finds an acceptable name for the artificial “farmed” — or beer-brewed — fish. – from salmon cells.

Options for naming the product range from “bio-processed salmon” to “cell-based seafood”, “cultured seafood” to “cellular agriculture” and more. Maybe if Sen. Lisa Murkowski gets involved, she can hang the Frankenlabfish tag on her.

Forget those controversial pen-farming methods that have helped Norwegians dominate world markets for high-quality salmon fillets, or Alaskan free-range farming methods that see around a billion hatchery-raised salmon dumped. to the ocean each year. hoping that between 50 and 100 million will be “caught in the wild” again.

Wildtype plans to end the whole process by becoming a mad scientist and growing fish in laboratories.

“It’s salmon for people who want a clear conscience and a C.Imeanorth pIanorthmet,” proclaims the company’s website.

Last year Wildtype claimed a breakthrough in figuring out how to economically produce the product, but the short-term market effects aren’t expected to be much.

Anticipated Wildtype production by 2023 is expected to be only enough to supply a “handful of markets,” reports industry website Intrafish.

And, for now at least, the company seems to be targeting high-end markets teeming with well-meaning urban ecologists and animal rights-oriented vegetarians:

“Our yesyouyeshYogramradme salmon offers an option beyond wild and farmed fish,” the company says. “The opportunity to eat the foods we love without sacrificing our Feithereitherd YodmeaIyes.”

taste matters

Taste testers first got a chance to try low-grade, lab-raised salmon in 2019, but both flavor and texture are reported to have improved significantly since then.

Business Insider reporter Anna Keeve has written that the current version of the product is “unbelievably similar” to wild or free-range salmon. She said that it “looks, feels and smells (like) a real cut of salmon coming from a real fish. It has an almost indistinguishable flavor as well.”

Keeve’s experience as a salmon taste tester is hard to pin down. Here, MuckRack’s bio describes her as a “freelance writer/journalist + communications/media expert focused on plant-based/vegan businesses + technology and web3. *Blog: The alternative route of life (for reflections on plant life + portfolio)”

Whether the market will agree with her on how “salmon” invented by lab rats tastes, only time will tell. But it’s rarely wise to bet against technology. It wasn’t that long ago that the Internet was an expensive and rather primitive affair.

As Dr. Kimberly Young, a psychiatrist who studies Internet addiction, recorded, the Internet in 1994 “cost $2.95 ($5.83 in today’s bloated economy) per hour to log on. Apps like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Second Life didn’t exist. . Modem speeds ranged from 14.4 to 28.8 Mbps,” and few people were online. Internet connections were largely limited to businesses and schools.

Today, in almost any urban or suburban area, and many rural ones, you can connect to the Internet from a smartphone in the palm of your hand at an average speed of around 27 Mbps. Information now flies through the air at an average speed close to the fastest speed ever moved by wires, and the volume of information has skyrocketed.

In 1994, the New York Times estimated that there were about 3 million Internet-connected computers worldwide, about half of them in the US.

Today, the US Census Bureau reports that 92 percent of the nation’s 123 million households have at least one computer and 85 percent of those computers are capable of connecting to the Internet, and Statista estimates that there are another 300 million internet-enabled smartphones in the US alone.

The typewriter, once the dominant medium for drafting documents, has been relegated to a new status as a collector’s item or novelty. The last IBM Selectric typewriter, once considered the most advanced, was made in 1986 just as computers were beginning to take over offices, according to the company.

Those typewriters are now considered “collectible.”

raw Materials

Fortunately, wild Alaskan salmon is not a manufactured product subject to being phased out by new technology, but rather a staple like potatoes, wheat, or pork belly. And the value of merchandise is governed by the law of supply and demand modified by quality.

Alaska once owned the salmon market. Thinking he could retain a monopoly, he banned net pen salmon farming in 1990, when world salmon prices were high, and opened the door to Norwegian net pen farmers. Norwegian success in salmon farming inspired imitators around the world, and today about 75 percent of the salmon eaten in the world is raised in net pens.

Alaska and Russia via to produce the other quarter. The heavy farmed fish are almost all sold as high value fillets. The Russian and Alaskan catches are dominated by smallish pink salmon that are largely canned or made into fishmeal for use in dog food or, in some cases, shrimp feed.

Shrimp is America’s favorite shellfish. The average American now eats about five pounds per year, according to the latest data from the National Fisheries Institute reporting salmon consumption to be around 2.8 pounds per year.

Thanks to market competition that has driven down market prices for salmon over the years, annual consumption of salmon in the US has been increasing, which is good news for Alaskan fishermen who they still catch high-value chinook, coho and sockeye salmon. The bad news is the increasing penetration of the market by salmon farmers, who can deliver the product more reliably.

Intrafish reported a farmed salmon consumption of 1.6 kilos (or about three and a half pounds) per person in 2019, which was ironically higher than the NOAA report for the average consumption of all salmon.

There will always be a market for Alaskan salmon, given the relatively low production costs associated with free range farming (ie hatchery production). And the cost of production could be further reduced through more efficient harvesting methods.

But the competition for Alaskan salmon is now coming from more directions: pen-farmed fish; an increasing number of land-farmed fish raised in clean, recirculated, chemical-free water; and now salmon farmed in Cuba.

The still-high price of the latter should keep its role to a minimum in the near term, but if the story of other ag tech is any indication, the cost will steadily come down. Technology has played an important role in American agriculture since the late 19th century, when a bushel of wheat was worth about $35 in 2018 dollars.

By that same year, a bushel of wheat had dropped to about $6.

This appears to be the rocky road facing Alaska’s commercial fishing industry despite optimistic propaganda from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game promoting its success in boosting the state’s salmon harvests by supporting a large increase in salmon production. pink salmon while the number of Alaska Chinook, the state fish, continues to plummet.

Categories: News, Outdoors

Tagged As: Alaska Fish and Game, aquaculture, bioengineered, cell-based seafood, Chinook, lab rats, bioprocessed salmon, RAS, salmon, San Francisco, test tube salmon, wild type