The new facility, located in Chicago’s West Loop, will enable the Aqua Cultured Foods to begin scaling up production of its whole-cut plant-based seafood products.
The company is developing mycoprotein-based alternatives to calamari, shrimp, scallops, as well as filets of animal-free tuna and whitefish.
Not a new site, the facility is already food-grade and needs ‘minimal’ upgrades to customise it to scale production of fermentation-derived protein.
“This move is the final step on the road to commercialisation for our alt seafood, and it’s what we and our supporters have been waiting for,” said Aqua CEO Anne Palermo.
“Since the new location already meets all the key regulations for food production, we can scale manufacturing quickly, and product introductions with our go-to-market partners will follow.”
The manufacturing facility will be used to serve multiple geographies, including Europe in the short-term.
In 2021, the start-up signed a Proof of Concept (PoC) agreement with Switzerland’s largest retailer Migros to advance the development of its seafood alternatives, while gauging consumer perceptions across the pond.
Last year, Aqua inked a deal with SV Group in Switzerland to roll out its products into hospitality and catering channels.
Commercialisation in both these settings is dependent on receiving Novel Foods authorisation in Europe. In a recent interview, the start-up revealed it intends to pursue novel foods status as soon as it has achieved GRAS status on home soil.
In the long term, eventually Aqua wants to establish a local Europe-based facility for manufacturing of its mycoprotein-based seafood alternatives, FoodNavigator was told.