Plant-based-salmon maker raises $18m for expansion
Current Foods, a start-up that provides plant-based tuna and salmon, has raised $18 million (£14.7m) to support its smoked salmon launch into retail, expansion into the Japanese market, and continued product refinement.
San Francisco-based Current Foods, formerly called Kuleana (the Hawaiian word for “responsibility”), already sells plant-based tuna products, primarily to food service and fine dining customers, and presented its sliced smoked salmon analogue to the world at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York last week.
The company’s use of pea protein promises higher scalability than cultured (cell-grown) meat and price parity with conventional seafood, financial website Forbes reports.
“Our first ingredient is water, second is pea protein, but processed differently than [plant-based] ground beef protein,” Forbes was told by chief executive Jacek Prus, who founded the company with Barcelona-based chief scientific officer Sonia Hurtado in 2019.
“Then lipids come from sunflower and algae oils which actually gives our products omega-3 and omega-3 DHA - the nutrition benefit seafood is famous for. We also designed our product to function in a similar way: our products made without cholesterol are high in fibre and lower in sodium than regular smoked salmon.”
Prus said salmon and tuna are a big market, “so growth is a big focus for us right now”.
Alt-meat early movers
Forbes reports that Current Foods’ funding round was led by alternative meat early movers and cultural tastemakers, spanning sports and music.
Investors include Ray Lane, managing partner at GreatPoint Ventures, Union Grove Venture Partners, Electric Feel Ventures, Astanor Ventures, and basketball star Chris Paul.
Eric Archambeau, co-founder and partner at Astanor Ventures, told Forbes that Current Foods can deliver on taste and texture while providing a real solution for current environmental and health crises.
‘Head and fins above other products’
“Across all these factors, Current Foods salmon and tuna are clearly head and fins above other products in their category,” Archambeau said. “We are very impressed with the rapid progress Jacek, Sonia and the team have made in the past two years and could not be more excited to support them in this next chapter of development.”
Current Foods’ near-term plan is making tuna available at more restaurants and locations shoppers can easily access, and continuing to expand its salmon business through direct-to-consumers and retailers.
“Our products will only become better and better. In the future, we’ll also launch a salmon steak you can cook at home,” Prus told Forbes.