Aqua Cultured Foods raises $2.1m in pre-seed round to build ‘whole cut’ alt seafood operation

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Aqua Cultured Foods is developing a Non-GMO fermentation-based production platform capable of delivering high-protein ‘whole cuts’ of fungi-based seafood. Pic credit: Aqua Cultured Food
Aqua Cultured Foods is developing a Non-GMO fermentation-based production platform capable of delivering high-protein ‘whole cuts’ of fungi-based seafood. Pic credit: Aqua Cultured Food

Related tags: seafood alternatives

Chicago-based startup Aqua Cultured Foods – which is carving out new territory in the seafood alternatives space with a Non-GMO fermentation-based production platform capable of delivering high-protein ‘whole cuts’ of fungi-based seafood - has closed an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round of $2.1m.

The funding - from investors including Supply Change Capital, Aera VC, Sustainable Food Ventures, Hanfield Venture Partners, Lifely VC, Conscience VC, Kingfisher Capital, Hyde Park Angels, Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena, and Big Idea Ventures – will help the firm test market its wares on a small scale next year.

Aqua Cultured Foods​ – which is developing everything from filets of tuna and whitefish to popcorn shrimp, calamari, and scallop alternatives – is targeting foodservice and retail markets, including the fresh refrigerated set for grocery, said founder Anne Palermo, who will explain how her technology works today in FoodNavigator-USA’s ‘Where next for seafood alternatives​?​’ webinar (register here​).

Unlike synthetic biology companies genetically engineering microbes to express target proteins or other compounds, Aqua Cultured Foods​  has identified a strain of fungi that naturally grows into a fibrous biomass that can be harvested in its entirety as a Non-GMO, whole food ingredient.

Per serving, Aqua products will contain 18-20g protein, 10-12g fiber and no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol, a range of B vitamins including B12 - and added omega-3s.  (In comparison, a serving of cod contains 18g protein, 0.7g fat, nearly 43 mg cholesterol, 54 mg sodium, 0.19 grams of omega-3s, and no fiber). 

 Interested in seafood alternatives?

Article image - Seafood Alt

 Aqua Cultured Foods will be joining us today (Wednesday Oct 27) at 10am PT/1pm ET in part three of FoodNavigator-USA’s broadcast series: Disrupting the meat and dairy case: From plant-based bacon to ‘real’ cheese (minus the cows)

The session begins with a fireside chat with Marika Azoff ​at the Good Food Institute.

This will be followed by a panel debate exploring everything from formulation to consumer insights, merchandising, nutrition, and processing capacity challenges, featuring:

  • David Benzaquen​, co-founder Ocean Hugger​, founder and managing director, Mission: Plant LLC
  • Chad Sarno, ​co-founder and chief culinary officer, Good Catch
  • Michelle Wolf, ​co-founder and CEO, New Wave Foods 
  • Anne Palermo, ​Co-founder and CEO, Aqua Cultured Foods ​ 

Find out more​ and REGISTER HERE​ for our FREE 3-part ‘Disrupting the Meat and Dairy Case’ series.

  • Oct 13​: Where next for meat alternatives? From plant-based burgers to fungi-fueled bacon. WATCH ON DEMAND!​ ​if you register here​​​, click on the grey 'on demand' tab, then 'login' to the session).
  • Oct 20​: Where next for dairy alternatives? From oatmilk to ‘real’ cheese (minus the cows). WATCH ON DEMAND!​ ​if you register here​​, click on the grey 'on demand' tab, then 'login' to the session).
  • Oct 27​: Where next for seafood alternatives? From tuna to shrimp​ - featuring the Good Food Institute, Good Catch, Ocean Hugger, New Wave Foods and Aqua Cultured Foods. Register here!

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