According to Aqua, these developments have dramatically improved the growth timeline for its seafood products, which include tuna, whitefish, calamari, popcorn shrimp and scallops. The startup says it has filed five patents relating to its unique method of protein production, and is preparing for its next financing round.
Based in Chicago, Aqua has previously created sushi-grade fish filets and calamari using microbial fermentation techniques that “grow” protein from a proprietary strain of fungi. By controlling environmental conditions such as culture medium, oxygen, temperature, and humidity, the company says it can create the same look, texture and moisture level found in conventional fish and seafood.
Since its production methods utilize natural growth processes, Aqua says its animal-free seafood does not require the starches and protein isolates commonly found in plant-based meats. Furthermore, Aqua states its products offer naturally occurring protein, fiber and micronutrients that do not involve animal inputs or genetic altering, and can therefore be marketed as non-GMO.
Aqua says it will release its first test product with select partners in 2022.
A seafood story
As a female-founded company, Aqua is a young startup that has undergone remarkable growth in just two years’ time. A quick look at its fascinating rise:
- Founded in Chicago
- June – Unveils “world’s first” whole-muscle cut of fermented animal-free fish
- September – Officially launches
- October – Closes “Largest pre-seed round in alt seafood” for sushi-grade fish filets
- November – Signs Proof of Concept with Swiss retail giant Migros to expedite development of first products
- February – Reveals calamari fries as first product
- March – Announces ability to double biomass output in same time frame
“Scaling our production is extremely significant as we move towards commercialization, and positions us well for potential partners that want to bring products to market,” said Aqua CEO Anne Palermo. “We thank our director of research and development Bob Schultz for his advancements into our fermentation techniques and optimizing for growth and capacity.”