‘Compassionate caviar?’ Cell-based fish egg technology could make an exclusive food accessible to everyone — and reduce our carbon footprint

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Credit: Bermix Studio/Unsplash
Credit: Bermix Studio/Unsplash

Caviar is renowned as an exclusive luxury typically only enjoyed by champagne-swilling elites in five-star suites or on-board first-class flights or cruises. But it’s also one of the easiest foods to grow in a lab. So says Kenneth Benning, the refined CEO of Exmoor Caviar – famous as the UK’s first sturgeon caviar farm.

The sturgeon at Exmoor Caviar enjoy a semi-wild, non-caged life. But the entrepreneur told FoodNavigator he believes comprised standards of animal farming husbandry at intensive farming operations in other parts of the world will discredit the caviar name. Consumer preferences, he says, including among traditional caviar buyers, are accelerating towards animal-free foods boasting better sustainability credentials, reduced carbon footprint, and free from antibiotics and chemicals.

Related article:  Fermentation and sustainability: Synthetic biology poised to bring us dairy-free milk and cheese that taste like the real thing
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Real caviar can take between seven and 35 years to make depending on the species. Benning expects his lab-grown caviar to be significantly less expensive than traditional caviar as he hopes to produce large amounts in a shorter time.

Benning said the products will have the same taste and texture profile as the real thing and are a “natural progression​” in response to growing interest from consumers looking for healthier, more environmentally friendly, sustainable and ethical alternatives to animal proteins.

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