4 Mins Read
Plant-based seafood maker New Wave Foods has bagged US$18 million in a Series A round as the company gears up to launch its products on the market. Using the funding to accelerate its scale up plans, the company says that it will first introduce its plant-based shrimp to consumers via foodservice channels before expanding its range to include more shellfish analogues, including lobster, crab and scallops.
Announced on Wednesday (January 6), New Wave Foods has closed a US$18 million Series A financing round led by global venture capital giant New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and “culture-tech” investor Evolution VC Partners. Other big names that have backed the New York-based food tech includes Tyson Ventures, the investment arm under meat major Tyson Foods. New Wave Foods also announced the appointment of NEA general partner Liza Landsman to its board.
We’re launching a versatile plant-based shrimp that can be used in a wide range of shrimp dishes. We have developed a product that is delicious and easy to prepare. These are key factors for foodservice operators.Michelle Wolf, Co-Founder & CTO, New Wave Foods
In a statement, the company said that the fresh capital will enable the firm to scale-up production and “aggressively expand” its sales and marketing strategy ahead of its planned foodservice and restaurant roll-out of its first product, plant-based shrimp made from sustainable seaweed and non-GMO plant-based protein. The company describes its proprietary product, borne out of years of research, as “virtually indistinguishable from ocean shrimp in terms of taste and texture”.
“We’re launching a versatile plant-based shrimp that can be used in a wide range of shrimp dishes,” said Michelle Wolf, co-founder and CTO of New Wave Foods. “We have developed a product that is delicious and easy to prepare. These are key factors for foodservice operators.”
New Wave Foods says that the new investment will also go towards the development of future products, which will include a range of plant-based shellfish analogues including lobster, crab and scallops.
Our focus is on offering customers a new, innovative, plant-based shellfish, beginning with the introduction of our plant-based shrimp. Along with a delicious tasting product, we aim to address the environmental issues that come with shrimp farming and overfishing.Mary McGovern, CEO, New Wave Foods
It has chosen to target the US$9 billion global shrimp market first, given its status as the most widely consumed seafood amongst U.S. consumers, toppling the intake of salmon and tuna. With 80% of shrimp also consumed in foodservice channels, the startup says that its initial B2B focus will lead to the most disruption against the seafood industry’s enormous environmental impact, ranging from overfishing to plastic pollution, carbon emissions and bycatch.
Shrimp supplies have also taken a partial hit from emerging aquaculture diseases like the Div1 shrimp virus – and with demand set to rise given mainstream consumers’ increasing preference for seafood over red meat, there is a major market gap for plant-based alternatives to avoid a potential free-fall in available ocean fish stocks.
“Our focus is on offering customers a new, innovative, plant-based shellfish, beginning with the introduction of our plant-based shrimp. Along with a delicious tasting product, we aim to address the environmental issues that come with shrimp farming and overfishing,” said Mary McGovern, CEO of New Wave Foods.
While plant-based seafood innovation remains a huge untapped market, more startups and major food industry players are now quickly eyeing the opportunity. Good Catch Foods, a U.S.-based leader in the plant-based tuna field, has recently opened up a new 42,500 square foot facility in response to surging sales. Soon after, Nestlé entered into the seafood alternative market with its first ever plant-based tuna launched under its Europe-facing Garden Gourmet brand.
Swedish startup Hooked Foods is another player competing in the fast-growing segment, and have recently raised US$600,000 to fund its nationwide roll-out of their vegan tuna alternative in Spring this year. The company has developed plant-based shredded salmon too, which is now in the final stages of R&D.
All images courtesy of New Wave Foods.