Upside Foods acquires cell-based lobster-maker Cultured Decadence

Published on
January 25, 2022
Berkeley, California, U.S.A.-based Upside Foods has acquired Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.-based cultivated seafood company Cultured Decadence.

Berkeley, California, U.S.A.-based Upside Foods has acquired Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.-based cultivated seafood company Cultured Decadence.

Founded in 2020 by John Pattison and Ian Johnson, Cultured Decadence is commercializing the process of turning lab-grown muscle cells taken from North American lobsters (Homarus americanus) into a luxury food item. According to a press release from Upside Foods, Cultured Decadence has advanced developed on proprietary cell lines and cell feed for lobsters, scallops, and other crustaceans.

“This acquisition will allow Upside to leverage its existing technical, scientific, and production infrastructure to have an even broader impact,” it said. “This acquisition will enable Upside to complement and expand its product portfolio and accelerate commercialization of a range of seafood products grown directly from animal cells, without raising animals.”

Following the transaction, Cultured Decadence will adopt Upside’s brand and remain in Wisconsin as Upside's Midwest hub, the company said.

"Seafood has a rich and delicious culinary tradition that makes it a favorite across the globe. Cultivated seafood also has a tremendous potential to benefit the world," said Upside Foods Founder and CEO Uma Valeti said. "Cultured Decadence's technology is incredibly promising, and their team is filled with passionate, smart individuals who want to make our favorite food a force for good. We're thrilled to welcome the Cultured Decadence team to the Upside family and are excited that the scientific, technological, and production infrastructure we have built over many years can help accelerate the mission impact of this team."

Upside, the creator of the world’s first cultivated meatball and cultivated poultry products, has the goal of creating “delicious new sources of meat, fish, and poultry that also address environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and public health concerns.” It has raised more than USD 200 million (EUR 177 million) through two fundraising rounds, including an investment from Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. It recently opened an engineering, production, and innovation center in California, designed to be the most-advanced cultivated meat, poultry, and seafood production facility in the world.

“EPIC will be able to produce both Upside's existing product and species portfolio as well as that of Cultured Decadence, validating Upside's multi-species technology platform,” the company said.

In April 2021, Cultured Decadence announced an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round worth USD 1.6 million (EUR 1.3 million) from a group of investors that includes Bluestein Ventures, Joyance Partners, Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, gener8tor, GlassWall Syndicate, Bascom Ventures, and China-based Dao Foods. The company also received non-dilutive funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

"We've long admired UPSIDE's innovation and leadership in the cultivated meat industry," Pattison and Johnson said in a joint statement. "UPSIDE's unparalleled R&D and scale up capabilities will significantly accelerate the commercialization of cultivated delicious, sustainable, and humane seafood. Uma and his team's ‘Big Tent' mentality resonates deeply with our team, and we are incredibly proud and humbled to be joining such a talented group with a deep shared sense of mission, purpose, and commitment to doing the right thing. There's nobody else we'd rather join to build the future of food."

Photo courtesy of Cultured Decadence

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