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Cocuus has produced bio-printed salmon but says more interest is shown in its technology to make mimetic meat. Photo: Cocuus.
Cocuus has produced bio-printed salmon but says more interest is shown in its technology to make mimetic meat. Photo: Cocuus.

A Spanish start-up company that has developed technology to “bio-print” meat at a rate of 10 kilos per minute is now looking at doing the same with seafood.

Cocuus has used food inkjet technology and 3D printing to produce animal protein analogues (mimetic food) of meat and some mimetic salmon.

The technology supplier’s machinery can use either plant-based ingredients or animal cells that have been grown in a bioreactor. However, as bioreactor-grown cells are not yet commercially available Cocuus has instead used “disassociated” cells - derived from meat by using a grinding process - to make meat with its technology.

Mimetic meat produced using Cocuus technology. Photo: Cocuus.
Mimetic meat produced using Cocuus technology. Photo: Cocuus.

Vegetable proteins and gels

Cocuus used vegetable proteins and gels for make the “bio-inks” for its mimetic salmon.

So, what did it taste like?

“It is not quite the same, but now we have in-house chefs working on it,” chief technology officer Javier Zaratiegui told Fish Farming Expert. “We are a start-up and now we are trying to scale up and we just increased the team due to the huge media impact and the projections of our current Series A investment round.”

The texture can also be altered.

“The texture results from the ingredients and quantities of the recipe, and the fat and protein proportion can be easily changed with our machine,” said Cocuus’ CTO.

Side project

For the time being, salmon is likely to be a side project for the company. Its focus is primarily on technology to print mimetic meat because that is what has attracted both investor and media interest. On the seafood side, mimetic tuna and shrimp are in greater demand than salmon.

“The salmon was just a recipe test,” said Zaratiegui.

“Our recent market research is pushing us towards tuna and shrimps more than the salmon, so we will probably focus on them.”

The salmon was produced on a different device from the printer that can produce up to 10 kg of mimetic meat per minute, and its capacity has not been tested. “But we don’t think it would be a problem to achieve a large one,” said Zaratiegui.

He added that to date, none of the company’s clients or investors had shown a deep interest in salmon.

“So, unless a new actor comes to the plot, that will be a minor project.”

Coffee laser printed with a Cocuus machine. Photo: Cocuus.
Coffee laser printed with a Cocuus machine. Photo: Cocuus.
A puree made to look like standard food. Photo: Cocuus.
A puree made to look like standard food. Photo: Cocuus.

Cocuus, based just outside Pamplona in the Basque province of Navarre, has been developing several products including Softmimic, a technology that transforms purees into dishes that resemble real food. It is intended for those that may have difficulty eating, such as some elderly people or hospital patients.

It has also developed its LASERGLOW 2D/3D laser printer capable of quickly cutting, engraving, and sculpting a wide variety of solid foods without altering the taste, flavour or texture.

And its LEVEL UP food inkjet printer, aimed at the food service sector, prints images on beer foam, coffee cream, and pastries.