Pearlita, the latest startup seeking to disrupt seafood, announces the opening of a new research lab in Raleigh, NC to grow oysters from cellular agriculture.
While many alt-seafood companies focus on cell cultivation of various species of fish and crustaceans, Pearlita is the first food tech company to work with oysters – a global delicacy whose soaring popularity has led to increased pressure on ecologically important wild stocks.
By cultivating oysters’ special tissues from living cells, Pearlita hopes to fully recreate the mollusk’s beloved flavors and textures without the overharvesting and killing of wild populations.
In addition to easing the burden on marine life, Pearlita’s production process would take place in a controlled and sterile environment, eliminating the risk of contamination from pollution and heavy metals, which remains a top safety concern for oyster consumption.
Choosing North Carolina
Funded by Sustainable Food Ventures and Big Idea Ventures, Pearlita says the company chose Raleigh, North Carolina as its home because of the city’s close proximity to the famed Triangle Research Park – an elite hub for biotechnology and life science research. With over 12,000 miles of coastal shorelines, North Carolina also has a long-established seafood industry and seafood traditions, from which Pearlita hopes to gain critical insights and knowledge.
“It only makes sense to base Pearlita Foods out of Raleigh. Not only is North Carolina the second largest estuarine system in the country, it is also the fastest-growing biotech and future of food hub. So we will be close to the ecosystems where Oysters thrive and amongst other entrepreneurs – both which we believe will accelerate our growth.” says Nikita Michelsen, Pearlita’s co-founder and CEO.
The company notes that cultivating tissue from oysters is a difficult task, due to the complexity of oysters’ tissue structures, but is confident in their eventual success.
“Although this is a huge challenge we plan to build a passionate team with the unique culturing expertise in this niche field to produce this novel, sustainable seafood. With support from investors I have no doubt we will accomplish great things” says Joey Peters, PhD. cand. and Pearlita’s co-founder.