Picture Credit: Sushi from Aqua Cultured Foods
New York, USA – Big Idea Ventures, the global leader in early-stage alternative protein and food technology is pleased to announce its follow on investment in Aqua Cultured Foods.
The Chicago-based Food tech startup today announced it has raised $5.5 million in seed funding to bring its ultra-realistic seafood alternatives to market.
The round was led by Stray Dog Capital with follow-on investments from current investors Big Idea Ventures, Supply Change Capital, HPA, Aera VC, Kingfisher Family Investments, and Swiss Pampa along with participation from H Venture Partners, Aztec Capital Management and Amplifica Capital. The round also included a strategic investment from The round also included a strategic investment from CJ CheilJedang, South Korea based global food & BIO company owning renowned brands such as bibigo.
“Aqua Cultured Foods joined the Big Idea Ventures New York accelerator early in the life of their company and we’ve been impressed from that first day – a strong team with great attitude, drive and hustle. We’re happy to see the growth of Aqua Cultured Foods since our support, making products that are revolutionizing the alt-seafood industry. It’s been a pleasure working with a company that has such a huge potential to deliver more sustainable food for a grateful planet,” said Andrew D. Ive, Founder, Big Idea Ventures.
Aqua will use the investment to equip its new facility, scale up production, bring products to market, add key talent, and expand its roster of restaurant and foodservice outlets for product introductions this year.
“We appreciate having mission-aligned partners that offer strong strategic value for the next phase of our growth, which will involve building up the business and brand,” said Anne Palermo, CEO of Aqua. “Being good stewards of investor capital is important to us, so along with hitting milestones earlier than expected, we are benefiting from government programs, academic resources, and other advantages to get to market quickly.”
Aqua’s primary value is its low cost of scaling and its path to price parity, thanks to proprietary fermentation methods that use relatively affordable inputs and equipment. The company recently acquired a food-grade facility that was already built out nearly to its requirements—which it estimates will save more than a million dollars in construction costs.
The global plant-based seafood market was valued at $42.1 million in 2021, and is projected to reach $1.3 billion by 2031 with a CAGR of more than 42 percent as wild fish stocks are further depleted. In addition to depleted fish populations, commercial fishing practices result in damage to ecosystems, plastic waste, and “bycatch” of non-target species. As fish farming increases, so does habitat destruction, pollution and diseases spread to wild fish, and the industry’s reliance on antibiotics and wild-caught fish for feed.
Despite its health halo, fish contains microplastics, mercury, pesticides, antibiotics, dioxin and PCBs. High in cholesterol and saturated fats, seafood, in particular finfish, is a good source of foodborne illness caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Aqua is developing calamari, shrimp, scallops, and filets of tuna and whitefish with proprietary mycoprotein fermentation processes that do not use any animal inputs, genetic altering or modification. Unlike plant-based processed foods formulated with starches and protein isolates, Aqua’s alt-seafood retains its naturally occurring fiber, protein, and other micronutrients. The company also produces minced “seafood” fillings for applications such as dumplings, ravioli, and sushi rolls.
About Aqua Cultured Foods: Aqua Cultured Foods is an innovative food technology startup developing the world’s first whole-muscle cut seafood alternatives created through microbial fermentation. Its novel technology produces a sustainable, complete protein source using only a fraction of the resources required by traditional aquaculture. As an R&D company with a focus on product commercialization, Aqua Cultured Foods occupies a unique position in the burgeoning alt-seafood market as well as within the fermentation industry. The company’s mission is to mitigate global challenges such as overfishing, climate change and feeding the world’s expanding population with delicious, nutrient-rich foods. For more information visit https://www.aquaculturedfoods.com.
About Big Idea Ventures: Big Idea Ventures is the world’s most active investor in FoodTech investing in the best food technology and agritech companies globally. The company has contributed to the development of the growing alternative protein industry since its inception and has become a global leader in food innovation. BIV is backed by a strong network of strategic partners including AAK, Avril, Bühler, Givaudan, Temasek Holdings, and Tyson Foods, and is partnering with governments around the world working on food security and new food ecosystems. The firm has offices in New York, Paris and Singapore and has invested in more than 100 companies across 25 countries. For more information, visit bigideaventures.com
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