SK Inc, the strategic investment arm of SK Group, said Thursday it invested in a food-tech startup specializing in cultured salmon, in a bid to diversify its investment portfolio in food business.
The holding unit of the nation's third-largest conglomerate said it invested 10 billion won ($7 million) in Wildtype, a United States-based producer of cultured salmon.
Cultured salmon is salmon that is cultivated in pilot labs with real animal cells, with mixture of nutrients, sugars, salts, amino acids and growth factor added, to coax the cells to grow as they naturally would inside an animal's body.
Chey Tae-won, the chairman of SK group, visited Wildtype in August, to taste the company's products.
"(The cultured salmon) can dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emitted during the process of fishing, farming, and transportation, and protect the marine ecosystem that faces the risk of extinction with bycatches," Chey said in an Instagram post he uploaded during his US business trip.
The investment in the chairman-approved cultured meat follows SK Group's current aim to expand its investment portfolio for sustainable food, and carry out its aim to advance green businesses aligned with environmental, social and governance initiatives.
SK Inc. previously invested a total of 119 billion won in Perfect Day, a US-based non-animal milk protein producer in 2021, in a bid to expand the production of dairy protein without the use of livestock.
According to International Standard for Carbon Footprints, Perfect Day's non-animal milk protein was recognized for its ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 97 percent and reduce water use and energy by 99 percent and 60 percent, respectively.
According to the SK Inc., a joint venture with Korean diary manufacturer Maeil Dairies and Perfect Day is also underway.
SK Inc. had further invested 50 billion won over two years in Meatless Farm, a British vegan meat producer, who had secured additional investment of 10 billion won from Aju IB Investment in recognition of the quality of the company's products -- which includes burger patties and sausages.
With the latest investment, SK Inc said it has established a sustainable food portfolio which encompasses vegan meat, non-animal milk protein and cultured meat.
"The process to overcome climate change will soon become an opportunity to actualize future values," said Kim Moo-hwan, the head of the Green Investment Center at SK Inc.
"We will continue to take the lead (in related fields,) in preparation for explosive growth in green industries such as sustainable food."