17/02/2022 – Agriculture / Aqua Cultured Foods / Alt-seafood / Seafood / Vegan / Fermentation / Calamari
Aqua Cultured Foods unveils first commercial product: Calamari Fries
Food tech start-up Aqua Cultured Foods announced today it has completed development of its first commercial product from its novel microbial fermentation technology. Aqua’s calamari fries will be available through strategic partners later this year.
Aqua Cultured Foods’ fermentation technology yields mycoprotein with a realistic appearance, taste, and texture plus high nutritional value – a holy grail in alt-protein. This proprietary method delivers the first whole-muscle cut, sushi-quality seafood alternatives.
Per 100-gram serving, Aqua’s calamari alternative contains approximately 80 calories. 15-20g protein, 10-12g fibre and no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol. In comparison, 100g of calamari contains approximately 90 calories, 16g protein, no fibre, 45mg sodium, 0.4g saturated fat, and 263g cholesterol.
Perfecting the realistic texture and preparation
Culinary advisor Johnny Carino – an executive chef who has opened more than a hundred restaurants worldwide and developed more than a dozen concepts – helped lock in the formula for the company’s first product. With Carino’s help, Aqua’s team perfected its realistic texture and preparation, and will offer calamari fries in seasoned and breaded options.
“As you bite in, you get an immediate crunch note that combines with the realistic, slightly chewy texture of the calamari,” said Carino. “It looks and acts like calamari. There was no learning curve as you’d expect with a completely new product or ingredient,” he noted.
“We’re moving on an accelerated timeline from the R&D stage to commercialisation, and now our focus will be scale-up, strategic alliances, and go-to-market partners such as restaurant chains,” said Aqua CEO Anne Palermo. “Hitting this milestone ahead of schedule is an achievement for the alt-seafood and alt-protein sectors, as well as for us as a company.”
2022: The year of ‘alt-seafood’
Industry watchers say 2019 was the year of the burger, 2020 the year of ‘chicken’ products, and 2022 is set to be the year of alt-seafood.
US alt-seafood sales grew by 23 per cent in 2020 and it is expected to be a US$1.3 billion market within the next decade, fuelled by increasing awareness of how unsustainable the conventional seafood supply chain is, and how destructive to ocean ecosystems.
Fermentation uses a fraction of the resources of traditional aquaculture, and Aqua has refined the science of fermentation for fish and shellfish analogues.
In addition to calamari, Aqua is developing shrimp, scallops, and fillets 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 fibre and no sodium, saturated fat or cholesterol, and Omega-3s. These nutritional values position them as similar to cod, which contains 18 grams of protein, 0.7 grams of fat, nearly 43mg cholesterol, 54mg of sodium, yet no fibre.
Aqua Cultured 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.
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