Alt seafood startup Aqua Cultured Foods announces it has created a minced dumpling filling for its future go-to-market Asian food partners. One of the company’s new options is a bulk shrimp alternative that can be seasoned, packaged and co-branded by retailers or distributors.
“This product moves us closer to zero-waste by finding use for our off-cuts”
Aqua, which produces mycoprotein-based seafood using fermentation, is primarily known for developing whole-muscle cut, sushi-quality filets. However, minced seafood dumplings present another lucrative and highly accessible market opportunity. As dietary staples in countries like China, South Korea, and Japan, frozen dumplings – known variously as mandu, gyoza or jiaozi – make up a $5.8Bn global market, and its value is expected to grow to $10Bn by the end of 2027.
Unlike whole cuts of high-grade fish, dumplings can utilize off-cuts, trim and less visually appealing filets. According to Aqua, creating minced seafood filling requires less fermentation time, and can be done more economically in large batches.
The company has currently developed a shrimp filling, and plans to create other minced applications such as spicy tuna sushi rolls, seafood cakes/patties, and ravioli and cannelloni, among others.
Calamari and more
Beyond minced items, Aqua continues its work with whole-muscle seafood innovations, including calamari, shrimp, scallops, and tuna and whitefish filets. To achieve a realistic taste and texture, the startup uses fermentation techniques that do not require any animal inputs, genetic modification, or the use of starches and protein isolates.
In June, the Chicago-based company held a major tasting of its products for current and prospective partners, and plans to gauge consumer acceptance at select restaurants later this year, before launching in-market with strategic partners in 2023. Aqua has raised at least $2.1M in pre-seed funding.
“We’re glad our partners challenged us to work on dumplings, and lucky to have their guidance through the process of perfecting the taste and filling for Asian palates,” said Aqua chief growth officer Brittany Chibe. “I’m especially happy that this product moves us closer to zero-waste by finding use for our off-cuts, with the added bonus that it’s very efficient to make in volumes appropriate for foodservice.”