Meat without feet (or fins): Chicago company reports alternative seafood breakthrough


In Chicago, alternative seafood startup AquaCultured Foods claims to have produced the world’s first “whole muscle seafood alternative” via fermentation. The process uses fungi to produce seafood substitutes for products like calamari, shrimp, whitefish, and tuna. 

“Plant-based seafood is an area that has been notoriously lacking in options,” says Anne Palermo, CEO and cofounder, AquaCultured Foods, tells vegconomist.  “Identifying this lack of supply in spite of the overwhelming global demand has helped us to realize the market white space at hand.”

The fungi grows like fiber threads, mimicking the texture of seafood. The startup is currently working to raise $1.5 million to launch in markets as well as bring a popcorn shrimp alternative to restaurants. 

“As the first to create whole cut seafood alternatives via fermentation, the opportunity is almost limitless in the future food landscape,” Palermo adds. “Any way that traditional seafood can be used, from raw sashimi to battered and fried popcorn shrimp, our seafood alternatives can be utilized as a 1:1 replacement.”