Briefing: BlueNalu ‘cracks the code’ to achieving 75% gross margin

Cell-cultured fish start-up says it will be able to hit price parity with natural fish products when its 140,000 sq ft facility becomes operational in 2027.

BlueNalu CEO Lou Cooperhouse believes the cell-cultured fish start-up has “cracked the code” to achieving a 75 percent gross margin.

The company confirmed to Argi Investor that the gross margin will be achieved while being able to sell its products to consumers at price parity with natural fish products.

BlueNalu said it has made a series of technological breakthroughs that significantly reduce operating and capital expenditure.

These include a single-cell suspension line with high growth rates that will allow BlueNalu to scale up to large bioreactors; a “revolutionary lipid-loading technique” that will enable the company to make products with higher fat profiles and sensory attributes, which will reduce capital expenditure; and it has designed downstream processes that allows for continuous production so it can remove “the need for plant-based scaffolds, which can affect product cookability, scalability and flavor,” said a statement from BlueNalu.

Why it matters

Although cell-cultured meat has been in the news for several years and was granted regulatory approval in Singapore in 2020, reaching price parity with animal-based meats was projected to be as far as 10 years away, according to Boston Consulting Group, which predicted in 2021 that parity may not be achieved until 2032.

BlueNalu is planning to construct a 140,000 sq ft production facility that will be operational by 2027 and will have eight bioreactors each with a 100,000 liter capacity. The facility will produce six million pounds of seafood per annum.

CFO Amir Feder said: “Our projected 75 percent gross margin within the first year of production of our large scale facility is unheard of in the food industry.”

Over the last two years, BlueNalu has struck strategic partnerships with numerous Asian multinationals including Mitsubishi Corporation, Pulmuone Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation and Thai Union. In Europe, it has partnered with Nomad Foods and Nutreco, and in the US has partnerships in place with Griffith Foods and Rich Products.

Global momentum

Cellular agriculture as a credible solution to feeding the global population received a vote of confidence in February when China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced that cultured meat and “future foods” (other alternative proteins such as plant-based, for example) would be part of its five-year agricultural plan for the first time.

Meanwhile, in April, the Dutch government confirmed it will invest an initial €60 million to support the formation of a cellular agriculture industry in the country.