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World Ocean Day was this week and, look, I’m not going to spend this newsletter bumming you out about the rampant plastic pollution problem in our oceans, or how we’re going to run out of fish. No! I’d much rather take this time to highlight some of the cool startups that are diving into our water systems and in doing so might just save them and our planet.
Perhaps the best place to start is with Saudi Arabia-based Red Sea Farms, which raised $10 million this week. The elevator pitch for Red Sea Farms is pretty straightforward: grow crops with sea/saltwater. The benefits to this technology are obvious: seawater is abundant, using it would allow areas without much freshwater to become more agriculturally self-sufficient, and freshwater could be redistributed for human consumption. Red Sea Farms already grows and sells tomatoes using its technology, and said it will be using its new funding to to build and retrofit more than six hectares of commercial farming in Central and Western Saudi Arabia.
Over in South Korea, Seawith isn’t using seawater, but rather something that grows in it. Seawith uses algae in the development of cell-based meat. I spoke with the company recently and they explained that algae can be used for both the serum and the scaffolding when creating cultured meat. Not only is algae plentiful, but it also allows for the creation of thicker cuts of meat.
Speaking of cultured meat, Finless Foods, which up to now has been best known for developing cell-based seafood, announced this week that it is adding a plant-based tuna to its product portfolio. The company didn’t specify what ingredients make up this new tuna, but it’s meant to be a fish replacement in dishes like poke bowls and spicy tuna rolls. Finless said its new plant-based tuna should be available to restaurants and food service operations by next year. Finless Foods wasn’t alone in the plant-based seafood space this week. Over in Hong Kong, OmniFoods announced its own line of plant-based seafood, including OmniTuna. If these companies, and other players in the space like Good Catch and New Wave Foods can successfully re-create fish with plants, perhaps we can prevent overfishing and the world’s fish stocks from being depleted so quickly.
Finally, lemna may not grow in the ocean, but this waterborne duckweed could prove to be a plentiful new base ingredient in plant-based protein. Over this past Memorial Day weekend, we ran an excerpt from Larissa Zimberoff‘s excellent new book Technically Food: Inside Silicon Valley’s Mission to Change What We Eat. In the section Zimberoff provided, you can learn all about lemna, and Plantible, the startup developing it as a food source.
With all of this positive activity happening with our waters, hopefully in five years’ time there will be a lot of good news to celebrate on World Ocean Day.
Float Foods Secures $2.2M for Alternative Whole Egg Product – The startup’s proprietary product is called OnlyEg, which is made from legumes, and contains both a yellow yolk and the whites like a regular egg.
Better Meat Co. Completes Its Production Facility for Fermented Mycoprotein Ingredients – The new fermentation plant in Sacramento, California, will produce Rhiza.
SIMULATE, Maker of NUGGS Plant-Based Chicken, Raises $50M – SIMULATE says it will use the new funding to triple its team, speed up the development of new products, scale up manufacturing, expand its retail presence and expand internationally.
Rebellyous Brings Plant-Based Chicken to 200 Safeways in the Pacific Northwest – The company, which launched its retail product early this year after the pandemic put a serious dent into food service sales and school program channels, has seen its consumer business surge in 2021.