Wanda Fish reveals its first cell-cultivated bluefin tuna toro sashimi

A great catch: Fat formation and downstream tech are Wanda Fish’s key to replicating the buttery sensation of true bluefin toro (Image: Noam Preisman)

Cell-based seafood maker Wanda Fish has unveiled its first cultivated bluefin tuna toro sashimi. The creation of this prototype addresses the growing demand for bluefin tuna via a pollution-free, quality-consistent, and sustainable supply of the highly-sought fish.

The raw toro specialty is composed of the underbelly of the fish. It has the highest fat content and contains high omega-3 levels. This awards it a buttery mouthfeel, making it the most tender and desired meat of the fish. Wanda Fish’s cell-cultivated sashimi possesses the same sensory features of wild-sourced toro sashimi, and is imbued with comparable nutritional richness, especially protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

The secret in fat formation

Wanda Fish’s cell-cultivated adaptation of the 3D filet combines the cellular mass of muscle and fat created from the Bluefin tuna’s own cells, developed together with a plant-based matrix. The company enlisted chefs to bring its sashimi to culinary perfection.

Wanda Fish’s technology to induce native fat formation in bluefin tuna cells and a whole-cut downstream manufacturing process employs a rapid, low-cost, and readily scalable production method. The fat provides the cultivated fish whole cut with a velvety texture, rich flavour, and essential nutrients.

“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,” revealed Daphna Heffetz PhD, co-founder and CEO of Wanda Fish. “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. The product is sustainable, and of course free of microplastics, mercury, and other chemical toxins all-too-commonly found in wild catch.”

“Our prototype is unique in the cultivated food industry, as there is no cooking or panning of the product”, explained Malkiel Cohen, VP of R&D for Wanda Fish. “Using multiple bluefin tuna cells to create both muscle and fat and our plant-based 3D design, we capture the essence of a raw fish fillet without preservatives, artificial additives, or GMOs.”

Good for both fishes and business

Bluefin tuna is considered the pinnacle of the tuna species. They are no easy catch – not only because they are one of the ocean’s fastest and long-distance swimmers, making them difficult to raise in captivity, but also because they are a prized marine delicacy. Overfishing and illegal fishing have prompted governments to place caps on fishing activity by implementing strict fishing quotas, which has also contributed to its premium price.

Toro sashimi is a luxury dish served mostly in high-end restaurants across Japan; it is also available in exclusive sushi outlets globally. A single 1kg serving can cost US$100 or more.

“Cultivated bluefin tuna is one of those rare food products that makes good business sense,” said Yaron Sfadyah, vice-president of business development and marketing for Wanda Fish. “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.” Alternative protein companies often contend with high manufacturing costs, coupled with the low price of animal-based products. It is a completely different story for cultivated bluefin tuna.”

“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,” added Heffetz.

The start-up will first introduce its tuna in the high-end food service sector, with a focus on Japanese cuisine, where sushi and sashimi are traditional features.

“Our focus on bluefin tuna as our first product was driven by market needs rather than technology driven,” concluded Heffetz.