top of page

In our recent report “8 Trends Critical to a Vibrant Blue Economy,” we predicted that customers will be eating cell-cultivated seafood in the next 18 months and noted that the success of companies bringing it to market will depend on achieving high-quality production and cost parity at scale. I’m thrilled to announce our recent investment in Avant Meats, a Singapore- and Hong Kong-based company developing an end-to-end platform for cell-cultivated seafood products and marine ingredients that has a unique approach to achieving these goals.

Population growth, income growth and a greater appreciation for seafood’s health benefits are expected to increase seafood consumption by nearly 80 percent by midcentury. We certainly cannot meet this demand with wild fish stocks. According to data from the World Bank, almost 90 percent of global marine fish stocks are now fully exploited or overfished. And while aquaculture can provide a substantial portion of global seafood needs, it comes with its own sustainability challenges and is currently reaching capacity. Meanwhile, Covid and trade conflicts have made securing local food production a priority for many governments. Cultured seafood has the potential to bolster the global seafood supply by reducing the pressure on wild fish stocks and localizing production.

Leading Asia's Cultivated Seafood Sector

While there are a number of companies working on lab-grown animal products, Avant is the first cultivated fish company in Asia. The company was founded in Hong Kong and is currently building a pilot plant in Singapore–a strategic location for a few reasons. Singapore has the most progressive legislation when it comes to cultured meat. In 2020 Singapore became the first country to give regulatory approval to a cultured meat company with its approval of Just Eat’s chicken.

In addition to favorable regulation, Singapore has a generally supportive ecosystem for food innovation. There is a burgeoning food tech industry as well as government support for new concepts and research in the space, including for cell-based meat. Singapore is a small state with limited resources that imports 90 percent of its food from other countries. In an effort to ensure the stability of its food supply, the country has a 30 by 30 national food security policy, which targets producing 30 percent of its nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030, and the Singapore Food Agency provides funding for the adoption of innovative technology. Last year, Avant partnered with Singapore’s tech innovation agency, A*STAR, to create a joint research lab to scale up Avant’s process for cost-effectively producing cell-cultured fish.

Beyond Singapore, the Asian market is particularly ripe for a cultured seafood company, with global seafood consumption disproportionately skewed towards Asian consumers. According to the FAO’s report “The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020,” about 71 percent of the world’s fish that is available for human consumption will be consumed in Asia by 2030, and the growth in per capita consumption of fish through 2030 is the highest in Asia at 9 percent. In fact, at 70 kilograms per person per year, residents of Hong Kong eat over 3 times the global average of seafood.

To cater to the Asian market, Avant Meats is not only producing fish fillets but is also focusing on products that are particularly relevant to the region. This is why one of Avants' first products is fish maw, a delicacy prized in Chinese cuisine. Sometimes referred to as a swim bladder, fish maw is an organ that helps a fish control its buoyancy. It has a gentle chewy texture and a mild flavor and is rich in collagen with a number of medicinal qualities. As one of four treasures of Chinese cuisine, high-quality fish maw can sell for over $4,000 per kilogram. But its popularity has also contributed to the overfishing of endangered species such as sturgeon and croaker. The maw of the totoaba fish, an endangered species of fish native to the gulf of California, is especially prized. While totoaba fishing was banned in 1975, illegal gillnets are common. These nets also capture the highly endangered vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, of which there are only 9 left in the world. While international trade in totoaba bladders is banned, they can fetch up to $129,000 per killogram on the black market in China.

The cultural relevance and high value of fish maw as well as its associated environmental impacts and its simple composition and texture are all reasons that Avant chose fish maw as one of its first products. In November 2019, Avant served cultivated fish maw to the public for the first time at the Food’s Future Summit event at the Asia Society Hong Kong. The company hopes to make the cell-based fish maw available for consumption by late 2023 and plans to branch out into other Chinese specialties such as sea cucumber soon.

In addition to focusing on high-end seafood products to address the price parity issue and develop unique culturally relevant foods, Avant is also working on other types of products to diversify its go-to-market strategy. The company is currently utilizing its cell culture biotechnology to tap into the $52.5 billion global anti-aging product market with Zellulin, the first cell-based functional protein for skincare. The product contains multi-functional marine protein peptides that promote skin repair and regeneration more effectively than collagen alone according to studies. Zellulin is obtained from the same cell line as the company’s food prototypes and can be incorporated into moisturizers, drinks and supplements. Products such as Zellulin will create multi-sector opportunities for Avant and help fund longer-term projects.

Scaling Sustainable Operations

Cultivated seafood is currently positioned to supply a niche market of consumers who are willing to pay a premium. But according to a 2019 report from global consultancy Kearney, cultured meats will make up 35 percent of global meat consumption in the next 20 years. With its multi-pronged approach and innovative methods, Avant has achieved over 90 percent cost reduction with an animal component-free medium. The company is now setting up an R&D laboratory and pilot manufacturing facility in Singapore and will first launch into restaurants, allowing Avant to generate product awareness and co-develop menus and recipes with food service partners.

"We are very grateful for the huge support of new investors and the ongoing commitment from existing investors," says Carrie Chan, CEO & Co-founder at Avant.

"We look forward to scaling up production for commercialization and sending our products to customers by late 2023.”

- Carrie Chan, CEO & Co-founder of Avant

Avant’s $15 million Series A round will enable the company to scale operations from a 5-liter capacity prototype to a 250-liter pilot scale and bring their first cultivated product, Zellulin, to market. We are proud to be working with Avant to design and enable the future of sustainable proteins.

Welcome Avant Meats: Cultivating a Market for Cultured Seafood

Welcome Avant Meats: Cultivating a Market for Cultured Seafood


Larsen Mettler

Managing Director, Oceans and Seafood

Larsen Mettler is a Managing Director for S2G's Oceans and Seafood strategy. He is responsible for identifying opportunities, supporting entrepreneurs and building the blue economy ecosystem. Larsen has more than two decades of experience and executive leadership positions in the oceans and finance sectors.


Josie Lane

Art Director

Introduce your team! Click here to add images, text and links, or connect data from your collection.

Project Well.png

Breaking Down Biologicals: A Look at the Definitions, Markets, and Barriers to Adoption

Project Well.png

Combating Disease in Aquaculture with ViAqua

Project Well.png

Welcome TechMet: Building the Critical Metals Supply Chain for the Energy Transition

bottom of page