Thai Union invests EUR 13 million in food-tech startup Algama; Jinka calamari analog awarded Best New Meat Alternative award

Algama protien with lemons and limes.

SeafoodSource is closely following the plant-based and cell-based seafood alternatives market by compiling a regular round-up of updates from the sector.

Thai Union’s Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) Fund has partnered with Malakoff, France-based food-tech startup Algama by investing EUR 13 million (USD 14 million) in the startup's Series A funding round, in January 2023, and the algae-based seafood products have hit the market.

Algama has launched smoked salmon analogs, canned tuna analogs, caviar analogs, and trauma analogs, according to the European Commission. 

Algama spearheaded the Seafood Algernative project, which was backed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to create microalgae-based fish substitutes to meet the growing demand for sustainable food products. The project lasted from August 2021 to December 2023. 

“Algama, [which] is using algae as a food ingredient to produce a broad range of products from mayonnaise to egg replacements to even algae-based seafood. There is a significant opportunity to incorporate sustainable, sea-based ingredients into everyday products, leveraging the natural umami flavor and the added nutritional benefits,” Thai Union Leader Chris Aurand told SeafoodSource

The CVC Fund was created in 2019 and has since identified sources of alternative proteins and functional nutrition, as well as innovative biotechnology, across the industry.

“We are excited to work with Thai Union to create the next generation of seafood ingredients that are sustainably sourced and health-promoting. By exploring the untapped potential of algae, we aim to push the boundaries and develop innovative products for the future,” Algama CEO and Co-Founder Alvyn Severin said in a release.

Thai Union's CVC Fund invests in early-stage startups that work to accelerate development within the industry.

“At Thai Union, we are committed to 'Healthy Living, Healthy Oceans,' and algae – as a sustainable marine ingredient – is aligned with our goals. Algama and its experienced team have strong tech and commercial capabilities to create a positive impact on the protein industry. We are excited to work with them and explore further collaboration opportunities,” Thai Union President and CEO Thiraphong Chansiri said. 

- Plant-based seafood company Jinka, based in Burlingame, California, U.S.A., received the 2023 Expo East NEXTY Award for Best New Meat Alternative for its calamari analog product.

The company began in the kitchen of Jinka CEO and Co-Founder Alberta Lio’s grandmother, with Lio attempting to recreate the tuna fish sandwiches she ate as a child in Taiwan with a vegetarian twist, according to the New Hope network. 

“We develop in our commercial kitchen, but whenever we do small-scale R&D products that we want to try internally, we [still] sometimes do it in my grandma's kitchen,” Lio said.

Jinka uses a pea-based protein as the foundation for its calamari analog, and it is free of major allergens. The company also offers plant-based tuna and crab [analog] poppers.

“We’ve had a lot of customers say, ‘We love your products, but do you guys have anything that doesn't have soy or wheat in it?’ When we were creating our new calamari, we wanted to keep consumer feedback in mind. That's why, instead of using soy, we ended up using pea protein and then trying to make a product that is also free of all major allergens,” Lio said. 

- Los, Angeles, California, U.S.A.-based Vegan Women Summit (VWS) announced the 24 finalists for its VWS awards and specifically nominated Berkeley, California, U.S.A.-based UPSIDE Foods in the Innovation of the Year category.

"The caliber and diversity of applicants for the VWS Awards has been truly remarkable – our 24 finalists hail from six different continents,” Vegan Women Summit Founder Jennifer Stojkovic said in a release. “We established these awards to celebrate pioneers who not only excel in their fields but also champion vital causes affecting our world today, and each of our finalists lives up to that vision."

In September 2023, UPSIDE Foods announced it selected Glenview, Illinois, U.S.A., as the location for its first commercial-scale cultivated meat plant.

The plant, dubbed "Rubicon," will cover 187,000 square feet once built, the company said on 14 September 2023, while earlier that year in June, the company also announced its completion of the U.S. federal regulatory approval process allowing it to bring its cultivated chicken product to market.

The Rubicon facility, touted as one of the most advanced commercial cultivated meat facilities in the world, will house UPSIDE's production of cultivated ground chicken. The company plans to steadily expand the facility's manufacturing capabilties in the coming years.

Photo courtesy of Algama 


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