Cultured fish maw will be available in China by 2022.
Hong Kong-based clean meat brand Avant Meats is currently developing cultured fish maw using fish cells for the Asian market.
Fish maw is the dried swim bladder of a large fish that controls their buoyancy. Many Chinese people consider it to be a delicacy. It is one of four delicacies in Chinese food culture, the others are sea cucumber, abalone (a type of shellfish), and the controversial shark fin soup.
According to Avant Meats founder Carrie Chan, demand for fish maw is unsustainable and is contributing to diminishing fish stocks.
The company’s cultured fish maw — developed in collaboration with bio-entrepreneur Dr. Mario Chin — will also be plastic and antibiotic-free. According to Chan, with this technology, Chinese consumers can still connect to their food culture without causing as much harm to the ocean.
She told Vegconomist last year, “food is closely knitted with local culture.” She added that Avant Meats tailors its products specifically for “the food culture, preferences and behaviors of consumers in China and in the region.”
Creating Cruelty-Free Food Delicacies
Avant Meats is not the only company working on creating sustainable alternatives to food delicacies. Aleph Food Lab has created Faux Fin, a slaughter-free cruelty-free alternative to shark fin soup. It cultures its main ingredient in a bioreactor with an algae-based nutrient medium.
“Not only is the cultured method more humane and sustainable for sharks and the ocean ecosystem, cellular agriculture makes this delicacy more affordable and socially acceptable to eat,” says Aleph Food Lab.
A number of brands are also creating cruelty-free alternatives to foie gras. People make the French delicacy — which translates to “fatty liver” — by force-feeding ducks and geese until their liver swells. The process has been condemned by many animal rights activists for its cruel nature.
Japanese company IntegriCulture Inc hopes to have cultured foie gras in restaurants by 2021. French company Suprême also aims to have its product out in the next few years; it extracts cells from a duck egg, which it then “feeds” with basic nutrients.