BlueNalu, the startup focused on creating seafood directly from fish cells, today announced that it had closed a $20 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Stray Dog Capital, CPT Capital, Clear Current Capital, and New Crop Capital. Combined with previous funding raised in 2018, this Series A brings BlueNalu’s war chest up to $24.5 million.
Based in San Diego, BlueNalu was founded two years ago to create a platform to grow a wide variety of seafood — fish, crustaceans, and more — from cell samples in large bioreactors. Since then, the company has been quite busy. Bluenalu hosted a culinary demo of its cell-based yellowtail back in December. A month later, they partnered with Nutreco, one of the world’s largest fish feed companies, to accelerate the scaling of its cultured seafood in order to bring it to market more quickly.
When is that exactly? The company has stated that they hope to start selling their cultured seafood products (maybe starting with yellowtail?) in two to three years. In five years they hope to break ground on their first large-scale production facility. That’s part of what they’ll use their new funding for, according to a press release emailed to The Spoon. BlueNalu will also channel its fresh funds into expanding its team and accelerating its product’s path to market.
With its significant Series A complete, BlueNalu is in an advantageous spot to become a leader in cell-based seafood production. Compared to its competitors, like Wild Type, Finless Foods, and Avant Meats, BlueNalu is working across multiple fronts — legislation, R&D, and supply chain — at a very quick pace. BlueNalu has also unveiled plans to build a 150,000 square foot facility which could produce 18 million pounds of their cell-based seafood per year. If that comes to fruition, it’ll be hard to compete with.
Then again, cellular aquaculture isn’t a zero-sum game. Cultured seafood (or meat, for that matter) isn’t even to market yet, so there are plenty of opportunities for multiple companies to debut their own cell-based fish, shrimp, and more. Plus many startups are focusing on a particular species, so there’s space for everyone to stake their claim.
A rep from BlueNalu told The Spoon that they think this is “the largest A round to be secured in the cell-based food industry.” (Memphis Meats secured a hefty $161 million last month, but that was a Series B.) Twenty mill is nothing to sniff at, but it’s a metaphorical drop in the bucket compared to the ocean of funding that BlueNalu will need to make their goal — scalable, sustainable, affordable cultured seafood — a reality.