Foodtech start-up Pearlita Foods has successfully manufactured a cultivated oyster prototype, according to investor CULT Food Science.
Pearlita set out on its mission to develop the world’s first cell-based oysters in January 2022, when it opened its first research facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. CULT first announced in investment in Pearlita in April of 2022.
Creating lab-grown alternatives to fish has been a popular area of interest for start-ups, such as Wildtype, which makes sushi-grade salmon cultivated from fish cells. However, molluscs haven’t seen as much attention as of yet.
Pearlita’s prototype has been developed to offer both the appearance and taste of a usual oyster, while being more sustainable and cruelty-free.
Traditional oyster farming is associated with a plethora of negative impacts, which Pearlita strives to sidestep with its cell-based production. As well as having been overfished to the point of near-extinction in the wild, oysters can cause different food borne illnesses like norovirus and fibrosis.
The start-up’s oyster alternative uses a proprietary mushroom and seaweed base to imitate the signature texture of the food. The taste is achieved with the company’s novel flavouring.
CULT also confirmed that Pearlita is planning to create biodegradable shells, to mimic the eating experience of traditional oysters.
CULT CEO Lejjy Gafour said: “We are impressed by and proud of Pearlita’s successful production of its first cultivated oyster prototype. Pearlita’s commitment to making the world a better place and doing its part to increasing the world’s food security is encouraging as we possess the same goals.
“Pearlita is taking great steps to advance the production of cultured seafood on a mass scale. We are energized by the positive contributions that their team is making to the cellular agriculture industry.”
Moving forward, CULT says Pearlita will continue to refine its oyster alternative, and develop squid and scallop prototypes as well.
CULT believes these innovations can ultimately go some way towards alleviating the pressures of the food crisis by boosting food security through technology.
Hear what one expert predicts for the future of cultivated meat products in this Food Matters Live podcast: