Dutch Vegan Seafood Startup Nets $500K Preseed For Fish-Free Tuna Launch

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Newly launched plant-based seafood startup Monkeys by the Sea has closed its pre-seed funding round with $500,000 for the roll-out of its first products. The Dutch startup plans to release its microalgae-powered vegan tuna and breaded fish alternatives, as well as double down on R&D to become a global player in the burgeoning alt-seafood segment. 

Monkeys by the Sea, a newly founded Dutch vegan seafood startup, has raised $500,000 in its pre-seed round led by Willem Blom of Plantbase VC. Other investors joining the round included seafood industry veteran Roger Belton, impact investor Liet van Beuningen and Coroos, a Dutch food processing company, among others. 

Proceeds from the round will go towards supporting the startup’s first product launch, which includes vegan canned tuna and plant-based breaded fish. 

Vegan breaded fish sticks.

Global vegan seafood brand 

Co-founded by Thijs Wullems and other F&B industry professionals, Monkeys by the Sea describes itself as a “global brand” set to disrupt the unsustainable $200 billion seafood market. All its products are 100% plant-based, and will be made from non-GMO plant-based ingredients such as microalgae, seaweed, and algal oils and are free from soy and palm oil. 

Sharing more about the new brand, Wullems said: “My love for the sea and good food have brought me to some amazing places. I now consider it a privilege and my duty to show the world there is so much more taste to be found ‘beyond the sea’, but without harming our oceans.” 

After releasing plant-based canned tuna and vegan breaded fish as its first products, Monkeys by the Sea plans on dishing out a whole line-up of seafood alternatives that match the taste, texture, and nutritional profile of real fish—but without the environmental impact of commercial fishing. Some products currently in development include vegan cod crispy bites, and seafood-based appetisers.

Plant-based seafood appetisers.

“We’re delighted to announce this investment round and will use the funds to scale up production, invest in further R&D and ramp up our sales and marketing efforts,” said Wullems. 

Alternative seafood investment heats up

Investment into the alternative seafood space has grown rapidly over the past few months, driven by rising mainstream attention over the environmental and human rights impact of commercial fishing operations. 

According to the latest data, the alternative seafood category, which includes startups developing plant-based, cell-based and fermentation alternatives, has already raised $116 million within the first half of 2021. The figure exceeds the total recorded for last year. 

Some of the latest rounds include Sweden’s Hooked Foods, which bagged €3.8 million round to fuel its plant-based shredded salmon launch, and category pioneer Sophie’s Kitchen, which secured $5.6 million to grow its extensive range, which includes vegan shrimp, smoked salmon, crab cakes and fish fillets, to name a few.

Plant-based cod crispy bites.

Speaking about the decision to back Monkeys by the Sea, lead investor Blom said he was “impressed with the knowledge and quality of the startup team”, adding that the brand is “on a journey to become one of the key players in the plant-based fish market.”

Liet van Beuningen, who is also a classically-trained chef, said Monkeys by the Sea stands out because of its focus on nutrition, appealing to increasingly health-conscious consumers, while also delivering on taste. 

“I was blown away by how delicious and healthy these products are,” she shared. “I am thrilled to partner with Monkeys by the Sea and share in the mission to deliver real, healthy and tasty plant-based seafood, while creating a direct impact on our oceans.”

All images courtesy of Monkeys by the Sea.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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