Foodtech startup Aqua Cultured Foods nets $5.5m funding

Aqua Cultured Foods
Aqua Cultured Foods

Aqua Cultured Foods has secured $5.5 million in seed funding to bring its ultra-realistic seafood alternatives to market.

Led by Stray Dog Capital, the funding round also included H Venture Partners, Aztec Capital Management, Amplifica Capital, and a strategic investment from South Korea-based global food and bio company, CJ CheilJedang.

Aqua will use the investment to scale up production, bring products to market, add key talent, and expand its roster of restaurant and foodservice outlets for product introductions this year.

The company’s low cost of scaling and proprietary fermentation methods that use relatively affordable inputs and equipment allow for a path to price parity. The global plant-based seafood market is projected to reach $1.3 billion by 2031 with a CAGR of more than 42%.

Aqua’s alternatives to calamari, shrimp, scallops, and filets of tuna and whitefish do not use any animal inputs, genetic altering or modification, and are developed with proprietary mycoprotein fermentation processes. The alt-seafood retains naturally occurring fiber, protein, and other micronutrients.

The company also produces minced “seafood” fillings for dumplings, ravioli, and sushi rolls. Aqua was recently accepted into the Illinois Office of Business Development’s EDGE program, which will provide tax incentives to growing companies, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes over the next 10 years.

Anne Palermo, CEO of Aqua, expressed gratitude for mission-aligned partners who offer strategic value for the company’s next phase of growth. She also emphasized the importance of being good stewards of investor capital and how government programs, academic resources, and other advantages help them get to market quickly.

Johnny Ream, Partner at Stray Dog Capital, expressed confidence in Aqua’s potential to drive both human and planetary benefits in a massive $100B+ global market.

The commercial fishing industry’s reliance on antibiotics and wild-caught fish for feed results in habitat destruction, pollution, and diseases spread to wild fish.

Moreover, fish contains microplastics, mercury, pesticides, antibiotics, dioxin and PCBs, making it a source of foodborne illness caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Aqua’s alternatives address these issues while retaining the flavor and texture of traditional seafood.