CHICAGO, Ill. – January 31, 2022 – Food tech startup Aqua Cultured Foods announced today it has been named a semifinalist in the XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion competition, a multi-year, $15 million challenge to deliver sustainable alternative proteins that meet the emerging demand for meat.
XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion is specifically centered on chicken breast or fish fillet alternatives that replicate or outperform conventional chicken and fish in access, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, nutrition, taste, and texture.
A total of 31 semifinalist teams are competing, including UPSIDE Foods, Atlast (now MyForest Foods), Meati, and The Better Meat Co. Semifinalists were selected by the competition’s independent panel of judges based on their technical submissions.
“While there is currently some activity to create ground meat alternatives such as burgers, chicken nuggets, and ground fish, more work is needed to produce structured, nutritious, affordable, and versatile alternative chicken and fish products that are capable of competing with conventional animal-based products,” said Caroline Kolta, XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion Program Lead. “We’re confident this competition will lead towards a more environmentally sustainable path to meeting emerging demand for meat products.”
“XPRIZE recognizes that traditional agri- and aquaculture cannot keep up with the demands of a growing population, and we’re especially gratified that this competition focuses on alt-seafood as a key component of a sustainable food supply,” said Aqua CEO Anne Palermo, who recently addressed food insecurity and the future of meat at CES’ inaugural food tech conference. “Among competitors from plant-based, cell-cultured, and mycoprotein categories, I’m confident our novel fermentation technology will stand out both for quality and for its minimal use of resources compared to other alt-protein approaches.”
XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion recently partnered with Blue Horizon, Future Food-Tech, Seeker, and World Central Kitchen to aid Aqua and other competing teams in a variety of forms, ranging from awareness building and mentorship to gratis or discounted services. Over the next year, semifinalists will work closely with the competition’s ecosystem and sponsors, which include ASPIRE and The Tony Robbins Foundation, as they begin to develop the first iteration of their products. Up to 10 finalist teams will be chosen towards the end of 2022 based on the merit of their technical solution prototypes, and will split a milestone award of $2.5 million. Finalist teams will then enter one last round of solution development before final judging, which will award one team a grand prize of $7 million, second and third place prizes of $2 and $1 million respectively, and a bonus prize of $2 million. The winning teams will need to create consistent cuts of structured chicken breast or fish fillet analogs of 115 grams (or four ounces) that replicate the sensory properties, versatility, and nutritional profile of conventional chicken or fish.
Aqua is developing calamari, 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 18 grams of protein, .7 grams of fat, nearly 43 mg cholesterol, 54 mg of sodium, and no fiber.
For more about XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, visit xprize.org/feed.
XPRIZE is a global future-positive movement of over 1M people and rising, delivering truly radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. XPRIZE inspires and empowers a global community of problem-solvers to positively impact our world by crowdsourcing solutions through large-scale competitions, tackling the world’s grandest challenges in exploration, environment and human equity. Active competitions include the $100 Million XPRIZE Carbon Removal with Elon Musk, $20 Million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, $15 Million XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, $10 Million XPRIZE Rainforest, $10 Million ANA Avatar XPRIZE, $5 Million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, $5 Million XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling and $1 Million Digital Learning Challenge. Donate, sign up or join a team at xprize.org.
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.