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🍏 The Future of Seafood

My Climate Journey

Photo by CA Creative / Unsplash

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Justin Kolbeck | Co-Founder & CEO | Wildtype
Category: 🍏 Sustainable Food | Cell Cultivated Seafood

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Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:31] “Wildtype is going to introduce a third supply source of seafood. So we all know about wild catch, and we know about farmed seafood and we're making cell cultivated seafood. […] We take cells from a healthy fish, we grow those cells up into fairly large quantities and we place them on a plant based scaffold, similar to what you do with a building, to help direct those cells and mature them. And then basically harvest a product that looks and tastes a heck of a lot like what you'd find in the oceans.”

[7:02] “Seafood demand is expected to rise [about] 20% over this decade, which translates into several tens of millions of tonnes of new seafood per year. And the question we have to ask is, where are we going to get it? Are we going to continue to push wild fish stocks closer toward extinction? Are we going to rely on what is now in a lot of cases overburdened fish farms? And the answer to both of those questions is, no. That doesn't work. It's not enough. We need a new source.”

[11:18] “On one axis was market size, on the other axis was problematic means of production […] and salmon just made a lot of sense. So on one hand, it's the most consumed fin fish and actually the second most consumed seafood in the United States after shrimp. So the opportunity to have an impact was colossal. And then it was also one of these fish that is growing very quickly, just in terms of year on year growth. […] It has a very broad range of culinary applications, not just in the United States, but really around the world. […] But maybe most emotionally or viscerally, it's our hometown fish. So from the San Francisco area all the way up to Alaska is Pacific salmon country. […] And now, because of climate change, and drying up rivers, they no longer return here. And that's heartbreaking. And it felt like an opportunity to restore part of the marvel of the natural world and to a large extent in our own backyards.”

[16:55] “We have zero impact on wild fish populations. […] Still, unfortunately, to this day, a large percentage of the fish feed that we use for aquaculture comes from wild catch fish like anchovies and sardines, […] it [is about] 30%, globally. And then the other aspect that I think was driving a lot of the interest was health. So seafood is really one of these interesting paradoxes, where on one hand, it's one of the most nutritious forms of animal protein that we can eat. So it's low in saturated fat, it has these omega threes, […]. Yet, it has these major problems of contamination and by that I mean, the microplastics that are rampant in our oceans these days. There's some predictions that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by the middle part of this century, which is terrifying. Antibiotics that are used in aquaculture have been on the decline, but there's still a meaningful part of production today. Mercury, nobody likes that in their fish. […] So [we] have an actually sustainable form of seafood coupled with a pristine, pure form of that product that doesn't have any of the pollutants that are just common today in our production systems.

[21:41] “How do we feed the next 3 billion people that are going to inhabit this earth? Many of whom want to have the same consumption patterns that we have here in the United States. […] We have to be more conscientious with our food choices. We have to start measuring those externalities that you mentioned, and maybe pricing them even into the foods that we eat. We need to support all the efforts that the people who are currently putting seafood and meat on our tables are doing to make their production methods more sustainable and stop demonizing them. […] And we need to support these new brands that are up and coming and maybe be a little bit patient as we work through these initial product reps.”

[23:39] “You cannot find today […] a piece of seafood that is completely sustainable, that is free of all of the environmental contaminants […]. There's always a catch.”

[34:36] “On the market side, where we've had the most interest [is] from chefs and restaurants and restaurant groups that really care a lot about sustainability. […] You don't get to launch in one Kroger store in the US, they want to do a pilot in like 50 stores around the country. And it just takes time to get your production scale up to that level to be able to serve as a customer like that. And so we very intentionally decided to focus on a handful of restaurants.”

[41:49] “We are a climate company. And I think, what drives that is what values and what mission was the company founded to do. And our mission is literally to create the cleanest, most sustainable seafood on the planet. […] People don't typically buy food products based on their environmental preferences. They tend to buy things based on what tastes good. No surprise there. And also what's affordable. And what they can get in their local grocery store. And so how we intersperse I think the core values of protecting the wild places on our planet, keeping our oceans at least as bio diverse as they are today, if not returning them to a better place. And then trying to keep our oceans as the effective carbon sink for 93% of our planet's carbon is so important to us. But how do we message that in a way that doesn't detract from the fact that this is just good food, that we want people to eat. […] That is a really interesting challenge that we've grappled with a little bit.”

Rating: 🍏🍏🍏🍏

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google (Original Title: "Startup Series: Wildtype")
🕰️ 55 min | 🗓️ 05/12/2022
✅ Time saved: 53 min

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