New School Foods said its muscle fiber and scaffolding technology to produce alternative products from whole cut fish is now at the point where it can be demonstrated and piloted.
The company’s first product is a plant-based fillet that looks, cooks, tastes and flakes like wild salmon.
The announcement comes after the Toronto-based seafood producer secured $12 million in seed funding.
Participating investors include Lever VC, Hatch, Good Startup, Blue Horizon Ventures, Clear Current Capital, Alwyn Capital.
Basecamp Ventures, Climate Capital, FoodHack/HackCapital, Joyance Partners and Joyful Ventures.
New School Foods also has grants from Canadian government agencies, including Protein Industries Canada.
The company has now raised a total of $13 million.
The three-year-old company is swimming in waters that have been crowded recently as startups around the world enter a market that is expected to reach $1.6 billion in the next 10 years.
Venture capital has also flowed into the space — around $178 million was invested in the first half of 2022.
One of the largest venture capital investments in alternative seafood last year went to Wildtype, which raised $100 million in a Series B round.
Its farmed salmon product. Meanwhile, Plantish, Bluu Seafood and ISH Company are also working on salmon alternatives.
“Seafood is a new piece of the puzzle in terms of technology right now,” New School Foods CEO Christopher Bryson told TechCrunch.
Bryson got involved in alternative seafood about five years ago after selling his e-commerce company Unata. a platform for large grocery stores on Instacart.
He went in search of his next “big thing” and ended up learning about factory farming and how animals were treated, which he described as a “life-changing event.”
“It didn’t seem like enough people were bothered by it,” he added.
Bryson explained that the startup ecosystem doesn’t reward research and development.
So because he didn’t have a product for investors to sample, he instead took an angel investor approach — looking at early technologies, especially those that hadn’t yet been used for alternative solutions. proteins.
In looking for research to invest in, he found that there weren’t many technologies focused on whole pieces of protein, and very few focused on seafood.
Bryson saw that high humidity extrusion was often used, but found that the high heat used was pre-cooking the food, which did not produce the type of texture and muscle fibers he was looking for.
“So we decided to create a new technology that didn’t rely on high-moisture extrusion and was more suitable for whole cuts,” he added.
New School Foods has come up with its own muscle fiber and scaffolding platform to produce whole cut meat alternatives with the same colors, flavors, fats, texture and mouthfeel as traditional fish.
We recreated the structure of the salmon fillet, including aligned muscle fibers, connective tissue, fat and other components through our patented muscle fiber and scaffolding technologies.
Our salmon fillets go from raw to cooked and under similar cooking conditions as regular salmon.