Mycoprotein seafood startup Aqua Cultured Foods is tacking on another category disruption beyond its alternative seafood. The Chicago-based company is using up whole-muscle offcuts from its vegan seafood in a new range of dumplings to reduce food waste.
Angling toward go-to-market partnerships in the Asian foodservice category, Aqua Cultured Foods says its new dumplings featuring its minced mycoprotein seafood can be packaged and co-branded.
The startup is developing whole-cut calamari, shrimp, scallops, and tuna and whitefish filets with a realistic taste and texture. Using up the off-cuts and imperfect filets for minced filling creates a new market opportunity for the brand as well as a way to reduce its food waste footprint.
Food waste is a big problem around the world. An estimated 40 percent of edible food is wasted. In the U.S. alone, nearly 110 billion pounds of food is wasted. That’s the equivalent of 130 billion meals and more than $408 billion.
Food waste is also a problem for the planet producing about 170 million metric tons of CO2, according to the EPA. That’s the equivalent of emissions produced by 42 coal-powered plants.
Aqua Cultured says its dumplings are economical and scaleable, requiring less fermentation time than its whole seafood products.
“We’re glad our partners challenged us to work on dumplings, and lucky to have their guidance through the process of perfecting the taste and filling for Asian palates,” Aqua chief growth officer Brittany Chibe, said in a statement. “I’m especially happy that this product moves us closer to zero-waste by finding use for our off-cuts, with the added bonus that it’s very efficient to make in volumes appropriate for foodservice.”
Microbial fermentation seafood
Aqua Cultured Foods is the first company to use microbial fermentation to create whole muscle cut sustainable seafood alternatives.
Recent research has found a growing interest in seafood alternatives, particularly in Asian markets. According to a recent survey conducted by think tank Good Food Institute APAC, Asian consumers are seeking out alternative seafood over concerns about heavy metals and microplastic in conventional seafood.
The dumpling market is particularly ripe for innovation. Valued at more than $5 billion in 2020, it’s expected to surpass $10 billion by 2028.
Aqua Cultured Foods says it’s starting with shrimp mince, but that’s not the end of its exploration. It says it’s looking at mince uses across spicy tuna sushi rolls, seafood cakes and patties, ravioli, and cannelloni, among other uses.