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  • 4 investors discuss the next big wave for alternative fishing startups • australiabusinessblog.com

4 investors discuss the next big wave for alternative fishing startups • australiabusinessblog.com

Although investment in food technology has slowed in line with the rest of the venture capital world, the industry has recently hit a number of milestones that suggest the industry and government are aligning.

In fact, some investors believe that 2023 will be the year when alternative seafood companies and products make remarkable progress.

More than $178 million was pumped into alternative seafood in the first half of 2022 and the value of the market is set to rise reach $1.6 billion in the next 10 years. One of the industry’s largest investments was Wildtype, which raised $100 million in a Series B round for its sushi-grade farmed salmon.

If this momentum continues over the past six months, funding in the sector would match or exceed the $306 million invested throughout 2021, despite the slowdown last year.

“Investments have grown steadily and we expect this to continue,” said Christian Lim, managing partner at Blue Ocean of SWEN Capital Partners. “We see the alternative seafood industry reaching key technical and economic milestones faster than the alternative meat industry, indicating potential for further acceleration,” he said.

Many companies say they’re in this because of the sustainability factor, and even with the FDA’s initial blessing to Upside Foods for the process of making cultured chicken, the focus is on bringing these close to the scalability and cost of traditional meats. alternative foods.

“The farmed seafood industry doesn’t need to look for the technology — the technology is there and improving with each iteration,” said Kate Danaher, general manager of S2G Ventures. “Now we need to think about building brands, labeling, consumer education, scaling production, and developing and improving the supply chain and inputs that will support a scalable industry.”

Every startup journey is vastly different, but one pattern we’ve seen working is an iterative approach of go-to-market strategy, product development, and regulatory approach. Friederike Grosse-Holz, Director, Blue Horizon

And like other plant-based, cultured, and fermented food companies, alternative seafood companies also need to figure out the best way to get people to not just try their products, but ask for seconds.

At the start of 2023, investors say regulation of alternative seafood will help drive additional progress, and are optimistic that traction will be found. Read on to find out what active investors think about alternative seafood, where they see growth, what they’re looking for and more.

We spoke with:

Kate Danaher, general manager of ocean and seafood, S2G Ventures

What will it take for the alternative fishing industry to have its first unicorn? Do you think 2023 is the year before? Which companies do you think are close to reaching this milestone?

I don’t expect the first seafood alternative unicorn to happen in 2023. The first goal we should all focus on is to demonstrate repeat production runs at achievable prices.

Cultured protein companies have made tremendous strides in developing their products, but the major hurdle is getting a product of consistent quality and cost to market.

To date, we’ve seen big dollars pouring in to support the first wave of cultivated protein products, including in seafood. To achieve the jump in valuations that will eventually lead to a unicorn, companies will need to demonstrate a quality product with margins that fit a viable business model at scale.

Some progress has been made in the US towards approval of the alternative protein production process. How can founders work with regulators and investors to bring more proof-of-concept projects to fruition?

Many constituencies must be “overcome” to mitigate the headwinds cultivated proteins are likely to face as they enter the market, such as industry groups, consumer groups and regulators.

Startup founders can support industry growth, commercialization and adoption by building bridges with industry groups to show that farmed seafood can complement wild and farmed marine seafood.

In addition, they must provide transparency in the production process in order to win over consumer groups and join an association, such as AMPS or Good Food Institutewho do important regulatory work on behalf of the industry.

Depending on who you ask, mainstream production of alternative proteins, such as beef, chicken and pork, is years away. How can the alternative fishing industry achieve this faster?

I am confident that within the next 12 months alternative protein products will be available for purchase in the US, both farmed seafood and other animal proteins. But for the foreseeable future, that product will be niche, premium, and in limited production. Once production capacity constraints are resolved and costs are reduced, I expect these products to become as widely available as their animal protein counterparts.

One area where seafood may have an advantage in terms of speed to market is related to regulation, as the FDA has sole jurisdiction over alternative proteins, while the USDA and FDA share jurisdiction over animal proteins.

In addition, seafood has a higher price and muscle structure is simpler compared to other animal proteins, making it easier to grow a product that more easily replicates wild/farmed species.

Many alternative seafood startups are also trying to solve the climate crisis, but this sector has unique challenges, such as cost and consumer appeal. What will be the key to helping companies produce sustainable products at scale?

For farmed seafood, the technology is there and getting better with every iteration. Now we need to think about brand building, labeling, consumer education, scaling production, and developing and improving the supply chain and inputs that support a scalable industry.

If these products can be more affordable and meet consumer expectations, they can have a big impact – for the animal by fishing less game, for the human by providing a fish product without toxins or microplastics, and for the environment through less waste.

In addition, consumer education will be central. This includes, in part, raising awareness around the true cost of our food beyond what we pay at the grocery store. Consumers are becoming more aware of the externalities and taking them into account in their purchasing decisions, but there is still a lot of work to be done in this area.

What does the future hold for investments in this space? What areas are you highlighting as future growth indicators?

The good news is that cellular fish products have reached a stage where they are almost ready to be marketed from a regulatory, taste and performance standpoint.

Cellular seafood companies are making tremendous progress in lowering price and are approaching the stage where they are ready for growth capital to scale the business. I expect more innovation and investment in improving the consumer experience and 3D textures.

What is needed to attract more institutional investment for later stage funding to help scale the market?

I fully expect cellular fish companies to be in a sell-out position going forward as there is demand from a large early adopter consumer segment. The next wave of investment will be in infrastructure and companies building adjacent inputs to outsource parts of the supply chain.

We have strong evidence that FDA approval is imminent, and that will be a big step for institutional and downstream investors. Once this is done, it’s about who is in the market showing traction and producing a product at a price that makes a compelling business case.

Friederike Grosse-Holz, Director, Blue Horizon

What will it take for the alternative fishing industry to have its first unicorn? Do you think 2023 is the year before? Which companies do you think are close to reaching this milestone?

It requires a clean label and a healthy nutritional composition similar to seafood, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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