Thursday, July 25, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Blending Centuries-old Technique with New-age Robotics to Bake More Sustainability into Our Harvesting Methods

Shinkei, a company pioneering a commercial fish processing technology, has officially raised a sum of $6 million in seed funding, funding which it will use to support the launch of its modern system that merges machine learning, robotics, and centuries-old fish harvesting techniques. Led by Cantos, the funding round in question saw further participation coming from the likes of 8VC, Impatient Ventures, Susa/Humba Ventures, Carya Venture Partners, Ravelin Capital, Red & Blue Ventures, Undeterred Capital, and plenty others. To understand the significance of this development, we must acknowledge that, even though fish is currently the main source of protein for over 3 billion people, more than over 60 percent of all fish caught in America is never actually eaten, all because it goes bad quickly. Hence, in its response to so much wastage, Shinkei will use an automated iteration of one centuries-old ike jime technique used for humanely processing fish. This particular technique has already shown to enhance quality, taste and shelf-life of the raw product. Contextualizing those findings would be a piece of data which claims that fish processed using the ike jime technique remain fresh for up to three times as long as the standard harvesting methods.

“The commercial fishing industry has enjoyed many technological advances over its long history, but we believe one of the biggest advances just arrived,” said Saif Khawaja, Founder and CEO of Shinkei, and founding member of the NFI Sushi Council. “Enhancing the taste, shelf-life, and overall quality of harvested fish — while at the same time boosting sustainability and eliminating waste — is a win/win for fishermen, consumers, and every step of the supply chain in between. We’re thrilled to be able to bring this incredible technology to an industry that has given the world so much.”

Taking a slightly closer look at the technique in question, it was developed by some skilled Japanese fishermen, making up a process where one would humanely kill fish, and therefore, reduce stress on the animals. This, like you can guess, reduces the buildup of lactic acid and other stress derivative chemicals that quickly spoil the flesh. Using that as an inspiration, Shinkei instilled robotics-led automation into the mix to process each fish in as little as 10 seconds. Furthermore, given the method’s focus on harvesting the fish immediately on the boat or shore, the company also ensures that the fish are not left to suffocate and become more vulnerable to early spoilage.

Another detail worth a mention here is rooted in Shinkei’s hardware, which can be fitted and integrated into most fishing gear types. This versatility means, alongside wild-caught fishes, the company will have a chance to use its technology for commercial fish farming. In fact, to optimize the latter use case, Shinkei is already engaging with suppliers including Local Coho, who in turn, is responsible for the fish stock of Yama Seafood’s Michelin-starred restaurants and fine dining establishments.

“Shinkei’s ike jime harvesting robot was critical for LocalCoho’s expansion into new markets and sales channels,” Michael Fabbro, LocalCoho CEO, said. “We’re thrilled with the cutting-edge technology and support Shinkei has deployed at our farm. It’s allowed us to not only meet humane harvesting criteria, but it’s greatly improved fish quality. We’ve seen improvements in texture and shelf life, and now have a more consistent product as well. In addition, our target customers are much more inclined to buy fish that have been humanely harvested.”