Aqua Cultured Foods, a female-led foodtech company using fermentation to produce seafood alternatives, has raised $2.1 million in its pre-seed funding round. According to Aqua, the oversubscribed round is the largest ever pre-seed in alt-seafood, and one of the largest ever in fermented proteins.
Participants included Supply Change Capital, Aera VC, and Sustainable Food Ventures. The funding will be used to speed up research and development to enable commercialisation of the company’s products.
What sets Aqua apart from many other alt-seafood companies is that it produces whole-muscle, sushi-quality fillets. Currently, the company is able to make alternatives to tuna, whitefish, popcorn shrimp, calamari, and scallops, using a proprietary fungi strain as a base. Aqua claims it was the first company ever to produce whole muscle seafood using fermentation.
A growing team
Recently, Aqua has added some notable members to its team. Bob Schultz, former lead food engineer for fast-growing plant-based nugget brand Nuggs, is the company’s new lead scientist. And executive chef Johnny Carino, owner of the restaurant chain Carino’s Italian, is now Aqua’s head of culinary innovation.
“Interest at this stage has frankly exceeded our capacity to bring in partners, leading to an oversubscribed round, but it’s left us in a good position for future investment and very optimistic about our approach to delivering more sustainable protein,” said Aqua CEO Anne Palermo. “Our next step is to work on commercializing our products from lab-scale to bring to the foodservice and retail channels, including the fresh refrigerated set for grocery, so that our products can reach both restaurant tables and the seafood counter.”