Chicago-based food tech start-up Aqua Cultured Foods has begun building a new manufacturing facility for its plant-based seafood products in the West Loop area of the city. The facility, nearly three times the size of Aqua’s current base, is already food-grade and requires minimal upgrades to enable the company to scale production of its fermentation-derived protein.
According to the company, their production methods use standard food production equipment, allowing quicker buildout. Aquaculture says its production methods are also space-efficient, comparing their usage of space as being similar to vertical farming.
“This move is the final step on the road to commercialization of our alt-seafood, and it’s what we and our supporters have been waiting for,” said Anne Palermo, CEO of Aqua Cultured Food.
Unlike many alt-seafood companies creating more straightforward plant-based analogs, Aqua Cultured utilizes biomass fermentation to grow its protein. The company uses its proprietary fungi to produce seafood analogs such as tuna, calamari, and shrimp.
Aqua Cultured Foods says it is currently holding tasting events with strategic partners including restaurants and plans to roll out its products in the second quarter of this year.