Wanda Fish chief executive Daphna Heffetz, fourth from right, with other members of the team.

Alternative tuna company raises $7 million

Aqua-Spark leads investment in Israeli start-up


Cell-grown-fish start-up Wanda Fish Technologies, Ltd., has secured US $7 million (£5.73m) in seed funding in a round led by Netherlands-based global aquaculture investment fund Aqua-Spark, it announced today.

Additional funding comes from returning pre-seed investors The Kitchen FoodTech Hub by the Strauss Group, Peregrine Ventures, LLC, PICO Venture Partners, MOREVC, and CPT Capital, LLP. Since its inception, Israel-based Wanda Fish has raised $10m in funding.

The company said the new injection of capital will boost its ability to accelerate the creation and increase the scale of a cultivated whole-cut filet of bluefin tuna.

Muscle and fat cells

Wanda Fish said these cuts replicate the texture, flavour, and nutritional value of wild-caught bluefin tuna as they comprise the fish’s muscle and fat cells and contain the same native proteins and fatty acids, including omega-3 and other essential nutrients.

“We are excited and feel incredibly fortunate to collaborate with Aqua-Spark in propelling our venture forward,” said Daphna Heffetz, co-founder and chief executive of Wanda Fish, in a press release.

“We are on a shared mission to improve the global food value chain, creating a tasty, more sustainable future for all. This financial backing by leading global venture funds gives us significant leverage to make sustainably cultivated, cruelty-free, and ocean-friendly bluefin tuna a reality.”

Wanda Fish said it had made rapid progress on key developmental breakthroughs toward achieving a whole-cut bluefin tuna prototype to provide an abundant, premium source of highly nutritious fish that will alleviate strain on wild tuna. This includes forming a 3D fillet structure using bluefin tuna cells, differentiated into both muscle and fat tissues. With its proprietary technique, Wanda Fish can precisely control fat levels in its end products. This enables the creation of a diverse range of fillet cuts, including the highly sought-after Toro premium cut.

Unsuitable to farm

The company said tuna is considered unsustainable to farm due to the feed resources, pen size requirements, and difficulty of breeding in captivity.

It said tuna is one of the oceans’ most polluted fish, often contaminated with plastic debris and extremely high levels of heavy metals such as mercury, intensifying the need for an accessible, stable supply of sustainable alternatives.

Lissy Smit, chief executive of sustainable aquaculture investor Aqua-Spark, said: “In such a burgeoning and innovative sector, we are pleased to welcome Wanda Fish into our portfolio of companies based on the remarkable speed with which they’ve met significant milestones.

“We firmly believe in a future where sustainably farmed and cultivated seafood will work in concert with one another to alleviate the burden of overfishing, especially species like bluefin tuna which are deemed unsustainable to farm.”

Immense progress

Wanda Fish was founded in 2021 by Heffetz, a leading figure in biotechnology-based innovation, and The Kitchen FoodTech Hub, which is part of the Israeli Innovation Authority’s technological incubators program and has 11 alternative protein producers in its portfolio of 22 companies.

“As the start-up’s incubator, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing the immense progress Wanda Fish has made since their inception less than two years ago,” stated Hub chief executive Jonathan Berger.

“Wanda Fish is transforming visionary ideas into a tangible, cutting-edge product that is just steps away from reaching its prototype.”