CHICAGO, Ill. – February 15, 2022 – Food tech startup Aqua Cultured Foods announced today it has completed development of its first commercial product from its novel microbial fermentation technology. Aqua’s calamari fries will be available through strategic partners later this year.
Aqua’s fermentation technology yields mycoprotein with a realistic appearance, taste, and texture plus high nutritional value—a holy grail in alt-protein. This proprietary method delivers the first whole-muscle cut, sushi-quality seafood alternatives.
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Per 100 gram serving, Aqua’s calamari alternative contains approximately 80 calories. 15-20g protein, 10-12g fiber and no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol. In comparison, 100g of calamari contains approximately 90 calories, 16g protein, no fiber, 45mg sodium, 0.4g saturated fat, and 263mg cholesterol.
Culinary advisor Johnny Carino, an executive chef who has opened more than a hundred restaurants worldwide and developed more than a dozen concepts, helped lock in the formula for the company’s first product. With Carino’s help, Aqua’s team perfected its realistic texture and preparation, and will offer calamari fries in seasoned and breaded options.
“As you bite in, you get an immediate crunch note that combines with the realistic, slightly chewy texture of the calamari,” said Carino. “It looks and acts like calamari. There was no learning curve as you’d expect with a completely new product or ingredient.”
“We’re moving on an accelerated timeline from the R&D stage to commercialization, and now our focus will be scale-up, strategic alliances, and go-to-market partners such as restaurant chains,” said Aqua CEO Anne Palermo. “Hitting this milestone ahead of schedule is an achievement for the alt-seafood and alt-protein sectors, as well as for us as a company.”
Industry watchers say 2019 was the year of the burger, 2020 the year of “chicken” products, and 2022 is set to be the year of alt-seafood. U.S. alt-seafood sales grew by 23% in 2020 and it is expected to be a $1.3 billion market in the next decade, fueled by increasing awareness of how unsustainable the conventional seafood supply chain is, and how destructive to ocean ecosystems. Fermentation uses a fraction of the resources of traditional aquaculture, and Aqua has refined the science of fermentation for fish and shellfish analogs.
In addition to calamari, Aqua is developing shrimp, scallops, and filets of animal-free tuna and whitefish, all with a realistic taste and texture. Aqua’s fermentation methods do not use any animal inputs, genetic altering or modification and can be marketed as non-GMO. Per serving, products will contain 18-20 grams of protein, 10-12 grams of fiber and no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol, and Omega-3s. These nutritional values are similar to cod, which contains 18g of protein, 0.7g of fat, nearly 43mg cholesterol, 54mg of sodium, and no fiber.
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. Investors include Supply Change Capital, Aera VC, HPA, Sustainable Food Ventures, Hanfield Venture Partners, Lifely VC, Conscience VC, Kingfisher Capital, Big Idea Ventures, and Gonzalo Ramirez Martiarena. For more information visit https://www.aquaculturedfoods.com.