Catch-free: Aqua Cultured Foods scales fermentation-based seafood alternatives with retail giant Migros
17 Nov 2021 --- Food-tech start-up Aqua Cultured Foods has signed a Proof of Concept (PoC) with Migros, Switzerland’s largest retailer, to advance the development of its seafood alternatives with a realistic taste and texture.
Aqua uses microbial fermentation to “grow” its protein, and is developing the world’s first whole-muscle cut, sushi-quality filets of tuna and whitefish, as well as shrimp and calamari alternatives, based on its novel fermentation technology.
The collaboration includes assessing Swiss consumer acceptance of Aqua’s fermentation-derived sea food alternatives and exploring new business opportunities in Switzerland.
“The worldwide demand for seafood is exceeding the ocean’s capacity and we appreciate that Migros wants to be part of the solution,” remarks Aqua’s chief growth officer Brittany Chibe.
“Interest in our alternative seafood is coming from Europe, North America and Asia, because the need for more sustainable proteins is increasing as the climate crisis worsens and population grows.”
Aqua is currently scaling production and building infrastructure to release commercial products with strategic partners in 2022.
Feeding Europe catch-free
As outlined by Aqua, Europeans in EU member states consume 27 kg (nearly 60 pounds) of seafood per person, with imports far exceeding domestic supply.
Nearly one-quarter of the world’s catch is imported to Europe, although it represents less than 10% of the world’s population.
“Aqua Cultured Foods has presented some exciting technology and products that we at Migros believe can revolutionize the seafood category throughout the food industry,” says a Migros spokesperson.
“The Swiss market welcomes food tech, and we are ready to introduce the region to the future of alternative proteins.”
Europe’s appetite for clean meats presents a significant business opportunity for first movers in the space. Harnessing this momentum, Plenitude, a group of sustainable food partners led by Enough Food, recently secured significant EU funding with which it has set out to build the largest mycoprotein facility of this decade.
Debuting at the Ron Gastrobar in Amsterdam earlier this week, Israeli food-tech pioneer Redefine Meat has launched what was previously considered “technologically impossible” for plant-based meat – whole cuts of 3D-printed vegetable meat that “bleed” like traditional beef and lamb cuts.
Fish from fermentation?
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 offer 18 to 20 g of protein, 10 to 12 g of fiber and omega 3s.
The products will also contain no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol.
These nutritional values are similar to cod fish, which contain 18 g of protein, 0.7 g of fat, nearly 43 mg cholesterol, 54 mg of sodium, and no fiber.
With the rising tide of interest in expanded plant-based categories, nutritionally comparable catch-free seafood offerings are poised for success. Most recently, Nestlé expanded its plant-based offerings with a plant-based alternative shrimp.
The cultured seafood sector, in particular, has also seen tremendous growth during the last three years, and the space continues to gather speed. Pioneers in the field have been actively scaling cell-based production of the world’s most popular edible fish species – Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout and carp.
Aqua’s growth path
Aqua was accepted into Kickstart 2021, a Swiss startup incubator for high-growth tech innovation.
In the past six years, Kickstart has supported more than 200 startups and facilitated more than 200 deals in more than 40 countries, raising more than US$1.6 billion in investments and working with European partners including Migros and Coop.
“Kickstart 2021 participants are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time, and a collaboration like this between Migros and Aqua Cultured Foods is proof that meaningful commercial partnerships can create social benefit,” comments Katka Letzing, co-founder and CEO, Kickstart Innovation.
“Large companies are increasingly interested in cooperating with high-growth start-ups and developing together in Switzerland.”
By Benjamin Ferrer
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.