According to a new report published by the Good Food Institute, investment in alternative seafood companies totaled $175 million in 2021. The total represented a 92% jump over 2020.
GFI’s new report, which looks at the entire alternative seafood category across plant-based, cell-cultured, and fermentation-based products, said 2021 investment brought the total invested in the category to $313 million from 2013 through 2021. Cultivated seafood startups commanded two-thirds of all investment in alt-seafood last year at $115 million, compared with $58 million invested in plant-based seafood startups and $2 million in fermentation-based seafood.
A few large investments dominated investment in alternative seafood startups, including a $60 million convertible note for Blue Nalu, which the company used to invest in their commercial production facility. Another $34 million was raised by Finless Foods, a startup developing plant-based and cultivated seafood products.
While a near-doubling of capital raised is impressive, the total for alt-seafood is just a fraction of the total amount for cell-cultivated meat investments. According to GFI, the total cultivated meat investment in 2021 was $1.38 billion, nearly 8x the total for the entire alt-seafood category and 12 times the size of the cultivated seafood. It’s worth noting, however, that a large chunk of that $1.38 billion was capital raised by a small handful of companies raising late-stage growth capital, including $467 million in Series F funding raised by plant-based/cultivated meat pioneer Eat Just.
Total deals were up 20% in 2021, jumping from 20 in 2020 to 24 in 2021. While nine investors were active in the category with two or more investments in alt-seafood, one investor – Big Idea Ventures – stood out with six investments in the alt-seafood space. Big Idea invested across all three categories, plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation. Aqua Cultured, a fermentation-based seafood startup that raised a $2.1 million pre-seed round from BIG and others, was the lone fermentation-based startup that raised funding in 2021 according to GFI.