The company expects to deliver the world’s first whole-muscle
cut, sushi-quality fillet, as well as shrimp and calamari alternatives, based
on its novel fermentation technology.

Aqua Cultured Foods uses biomass
fermentation and a proprietary strain of fungi to produce seafood analogues
including tuna, whitefish, calamari and shrimp. The company has filed three
patents: one on the method of production, one on its usage in the food system
and one on the strain itself.

Microbial
fermentation effectively “grows” protein, instead of processing, allowing it to
retain its naturally occurring fibre and micronutrients. Unlike cell cultured
meat alternatives, Aqua’s fermentation methods do not use any animal inputs,
genetic altering or modification and can be marketed as non-GMO. Unlike
plant-based seafood, Aqua products are not formulated with starches, protein
isolates, and are low in sodium.

Per
serving, Aqua products will contain 18-20 grams of protein, 10-12 grams of fibre
and no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol. The proprietary addition of
Omega-3s contributes to its nutritional profile. In comparison, a serving of
cod contains 18 grams of protein, 0.7 grams of fat, nearly 43 mg cholesterol, 54
mg of sodium, 0.19 grams of Omega 3s, and no fibre.

The
pre-seed stage company is preparing to scale production and build its
infrastructure to be able to release its first commercial products in early
2022.

“Fermentation
was largely unexplored for growing seafood alternatives, so we saw the
opportunity to fill a white space in the market by creating a one-to-one
replacement that’s realistic enough even for sashimi, nigiri and ceviche,” said
Aqua CEO Anne Palermo in a press release.

“By nailing the taste, texture and nutritionals, we’ve
developed something of a holy grail in the entire alternative protein space,” she added.

The
growing appetite for non-animal proteins includes seafood, with environmental
protection and health seen as key drivers. In 2020, US sales of plant-based seafood grew 23 percent,
and $116 million has been invested in alt-seafood in the first half of 2021.

“The
seafood-alternative category is not yet dominated by any established companies
as the category is still a white canvas for new entrepreneurs to create amazing
plant, cell and fermentation enabled seafood products,” said Andrew Ive,
founder/general managing partner, Big Idea Ventures. “Each new product needs to
deliver on taste, texture and nutrition while being a price aligned with
customer traditional expectations. Aqua Cultured Foods has solved these issues
elegantly to create a realistic product with a nutritional profile that often
exceeds fish from the ocean.”

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