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November 13, 2015

United States

California—Silicon Valley—Faux Shrimp


  Michelle Wolf, Jennifer Kaehms and Dominique Barnes  


New Wave Foods, a Silicon Valley company, is trying to create a plant protein-based, lab-grown, faux shrimp.  Jennifer Kaehms, CEO of New Wave, says, “We’re really focusing on sustainable seafood, that’s our core motivation.”  She has a bioengineering degree from the University of California in San Diego.  She and her co-founder Dominique Barnes, along with the company’s lead engineer, Michelle Wolf, are participating in IndieBio, a science-focused startup incubator that gives successful applicants $250,000 and lab space to launch their business.  They were accepted into the most recent class of startups and began work in early October 2015.


New Wave is experimenting with different ways of extracting protein from algae and mashing it together to get the same texture and nutritional value as real shrimp.  They’re using the same algae that shrimp eat, so the nutritional component is fairly straightforward because shrimp bio-accumulate a lot of their nutritional value by eating algae.  But nailing the texture is tricky.  “I like to use the analogy of kneading bread,” Kaehms said.  “If you knead bread too long it becomes really firm and if you don’t knead it long enough, it can be too soft.  So the way we mix it and align the protein gels gives it its texture.”  The team says it has managed to replicate the flavor of shrimp, but Kaehms wouldn’t reveal any specifics about how they’ve achieved that feat.  “That’s our secret sauce,” she said.


In fact, Kaehms was a little hesitant to go into too much detail about any steps in the process, because they actually haven’t nailed it all down.  Each of the IndieBio teams will have a demo day in early February 2016, where they can showcase their first product.  New Wave will debut its lab-engineered, plant-based shrimp then, complete with taste tests and a more detailed explanation of the process.


Information: Florian Radke, New Wave Foods, 485 Jessie Street, San Francisco, California 94610, USA (phone 1-925-360-8386, email, webpage


Source: Motherboard.  Lab-Grown Shrimp Is Silicon Valley’s Latest, and Most Ambitious, Frankenfood.  Kaleigh Rogers (  November 12, 2015.

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