May 22

For the first time, a startup in Israel is using cell-based cultivation to produce the most prized cuts of bluefin tuna.

This innovative method replicates the buttery mouthfeel, nutritional richness and velvety texture of toro (the tuna’s underbelly), a highly sought-after ocean-caught delicacy, without the need for fishing.

In high-end Japanese restaurants, a single serving of wild-sourced bluefin tuna toro sashimi (which is like sushi but without the rice) can easily exceed $100. Given that bluefin tuna are among the rarest and most expensive catches, the potential for a cell-based alternative is immense.

The Ness Ziona-based seafood startup Wanda Fish has been developing the technology to make this happen since it was founded in 2021, and has now announced a prototype of bluefin tuna toro sashimi, grown from cells.

“A key focus in the creation of our product was achieving the same level of fat marbling as real bluefin toro sashimi to create the same look and mouthfeel,” said CEO Daphna Heffetz.

“Reaching this milestone demonstrates Wanda Fish’s ability to bring to market a whole-cut bluefin tuna toro filet without harming the ocean or diminishing the population of wild fish,” she said.

Cell-cultivated bluefin tuna holds heavy profit potential. Photo by Noam Preisman
Cell-cultivated bluefin tuna holds heavy profit potential. Photo by Noam Preisman

The company, which takes its name from the Japanese word for wonder, is dedicated to producing whole-cut fish fillets as a sustainable alternative to ocean seafood. Wanda Fish combines the cellular mass of muscle and fat created from the bluefin tuna’s own cells, with its own plant-based 3D design.

“Our scalable platform for producing this premium product raises its potential to reach price parity with traditionally raised bluefins, speed its journey to the marketplace and maximize profit margins,” noted Heffetz.

Wanda Fish — which has has so far raised $10 million in funding following a $7.1m seed round last October — is one of just a small handful of companies developing a cultivated bluefin tuna product; while the potential payoff is considerable, the technology necessary to produce it is enough to thin the crowd of potential manufacturers.

That said, while most alternative protein companies are faced with trying to undercut low-cost animal-based products, bluefin tuna is a completely different story.

“Cultivated bluefin tuna is one of those rare food products that makes good business sense,” said Yaron Sfadyah, Wanda Fish’s VP of Business Development & Marketing.

“It is in high demand, with limited alternatives that match the taste and texture of the wild fish, and at an ideal price point and distribution model.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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