Sashimi made with Aqua Cultured Foods' mycoprotein-based sea bass analogue.

US fungi-based ‘seafood’ maker raises $5.5m

Aqua Cultured Foods will use funds to bring products to market


Aqua Cultured Foods, which has developed a range of mycoprotein-based seafood alternatives, has raised US $5.5 million (£4.4 m) in a seed funding round led by Stray Dog Capital, a venture capital fund specialising in alternative protein investments.

Chicago-based ACF will use the money to equip its new facility, scale up production, bring its products to market, add key staff, and expand its roster of restaurant and foodservice outlets for product introductions this year.

ACF ferments mycoprotein (fungi) to create its seafood analogues. In a press release, ACF said 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.

Million-dollar saving

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.

ACF was recently accepted into the Illinois Office of Business Development’s EDGE program that provides tax incentives to growing companies, which will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes over the next 10 years.

A poke bowl containing ACF's mycoprotein-based tuna.

ACF is developing calamari, shrimp, scallops, and fillets of tuna and whitefish with processes that do not use any animal inputs, genetic altering or modification.

The company says that unlike plant-based processed foods formulated with starches and protein isolates, its alt-seafood retains its naturally occurring fibre, protein, and other micronutrients.

The company also produces minced “seafood” fillings for applications such as dumplings, ravioli, and sushi rolls.

Mission-aligned partners

H Venture Partners, Aztec Capital Management and Amplifica Capital participated in the seed round, along with follow-on investment from current investors Supply Change Capital, Big Idea Ventures, HPA, Aera VC, Kingfisher Family Investments, and Swiss Pampa. The round also included a strategic investment from CJ CheilJedang, a South Korea-based global food and bio company.

“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 ACF chief executive Anne Palermo.

“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.”