Alternative Seafood Investments Are on the Rise

Investment in plant-based, fermented or cell-based “alternative seafood” amounted to $178.2 million between January and mid-July this year, as interest in the sector continued to grow. (Fish Farming Expert, July 28)

In fact, the alternative seafood market is projected to reach $1.6 billion in the next decade, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 28%. Compared to the traditional fish and shellfish market — currently valued at $160 billion and growing at a CAGR 2.5% — alt seafood is poised for growth on innovation and rising social awareness about overfishing and the environmental impact of traditional fishing supply chains. (Abillion, July 2021)

Against this backdrop, most of the funding raised in the alt-seafood sector this year has gone to San Francisco-based Wildtype, which has created a cell-based smoked salmon analogue. In February, the startup raised $100 million in a Series B1 round

“As consumers continue to look for more sustainable seafood options, Widltype is a brand that stands alone due to its technology and product quality,” said Jon Owsley, managing partner at L Catterton, an investor in the company. “We are on the cusp of a consumer revolution around cultivated proteins, and Wildtype is well-positioned to play a leading role in this transformation, starting with salmon.”

Other investment activity

Other alt-seafood startups have also secured significant funding this year, including Current Foods, which raised $18 million in a seed funding round to support expansion of its sushi-grade, plant-based alternatives.  Plantish, which uses plant proteins to create premium, whole-cut fish, raised $12.45 million.

Another alt seafood company secured funding as well as a big-name endorsement.

Tom Colicchio, co-host of Bravo cooking reality show Top Chef and eight-time James Beard award recipient, is an investor in vegan seafood brand The Plant Based Seafood Co.

“It’s delicious,” he said about the company’s line of products in a recent Forbes interview.  “I couldn’t believe how good it was. I’ve tasted a lot of plant-based meats and some are better than others, but this is great. Those crab cakes made a believer out of me.”

Growth prospects

With 2022 financing activity in mind, the alternative seafood sector is well positioned for growth. According to Fish Farming Expert, only plant-based alternatives produced by companies such as Good Catch, and Current Foods, are so far available to the consumer, and only in a few markets, most notably the U.S.

Food scientist Bryan Quoc Le told The Food Institute recently that East Asia would be a huge market.

“Seafood makes up a large percentage of the cuisine in East Asia. Being able to replicate the taste and texture of seafood is technically challenging but potentially quite lucrative for plant-based companies,” he said.