Calamari alternative developed from microbial fermentation: ‘If successful, we’ll look to launch in Europe’

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

The new product comes in breaded or seasoned varieties, and according to Aqua's culinary advisor, 'looks and acts' like calamari. GettyImages/Roberto Serrano
The new product comes in breaded or seasoned varieties, and according to Aqua's culinary advisor, 'looks and acts' like calamari. GettyImages/Roberto Serrano

Related tags Mycoprotein

Aqua Cultured Foods has completed development of its first commercial product: a calamari alternative made from microbial fermentation.

The alt seafood product, to be sold as ‘calamari fries’, was developed leveraging Aqua’s fermentation technology. The product is made from mycoprotein, and according to the start-up, has a realistic appearance, taste, and texture – as well as high nutritional value.

Per 100g serving, the calamari alternative contains approximately 80 kcal, 15-20g protein, 10-12g fibre. It is free from sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol.

In comparison, 100g of conventional calamari contains 90 kcal, 16g protein, no fibre, 45mg sodium, 4g saturated fat, and 263g cholesterol.

The product is available in breaded and seasoned varieties, and according to culinary advisory Johnny Carino, ‘looks and acts’ like calamari. “As you bite in, you get an immediate crunch note that combines with the realistic, slightly chewy texture of the calamari.”

The culinary advisor continued “There was no learning curve as you’d expect with a completely new product or ingredient.”

Aqua Calamari Fries 2
Aqua's breaded 'calamari fries'. Image supplied.

Aqua’s calamari fries will be available through strategic partners in the US later this year.

According to CEO Anne Palermo, this suggests fast-tracked progress for the start-up. “We’re moving on an accelerated timeline from the R&D stage to commercialisation, and now our focus will be scale-up, strategic alliances, and go-to-market partners such as restaurant chains.

“Hitting this milestone ahead of schedule is an achievement for the alt seafood and alt protein sectors, as well as for us as a company.”

Late last year, the Chicago-based revealed plans to expand its reach across the pond via a Proof of Concept (PoC) agreement with Switzerland’s largest retailer Migros. The tie-up is designed to advance development of the start-up’s seafood alternatives, while gauging consumer perception in Europe.

According to Aqua’s chief growth officer Brittany Chibe, completing the calamari fries brings the start-up ‘one step closer’ to developing its product for Migros.

“The Migros collaboration will follow a similar growth and production process as the calamari development,” ​she told this publication.

“We intend to launch the calamari fries first in the US, and if it’s successful, we’d be looking to launch in Europe soon after.”

Aqua Seasoned Calamari
Aqua's seasoned calamari. Image supplied.

Aqua also has other alternative seafood products in its pipeline, with shrimp, scallops, and filets of animal-free whitefish currently under development.

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