Aqua-Spark invests millions in LoveTheWild
Aqua-Spark, a first-of-its-kind investment fund dedicated to sustainable aquaculture, is allocating significant funds and resources to U.S.A.-based company LoveTheWild, known for its sustainable seafood meal kits that go from freezer to plate in less than 30 minutes.
Netherland-based Aqua-Spark plans to invest USD 2.5 million (EUR 2.3 million) in LoveTheWild, as well as work with the company to hone its criteria and systems regarding farm selection and monitoring, to ensure that seafood featured in LoveTheWild products is top-tier sustainable.
Currently, LoveTheWild products are sold in close to 600 stores across the United States. In five years, the company plans to expand its reach to over 6,000 stores. LoveTheWild, with the aid of Aqua-Spark, also aims to move toward providing 100 percent sustainable-farmed fish -- meaning sourcing from farms that do not harm the environment, are not using antibiotics or chemicals, and that prioritize the health of the fish. As of now, LoveTheWild’s products feature 60 percent farmed fish and 40 percent wild fish.
This investment and partnership marks the first time that Aqua-Spark has ventured into the consumer market.
“This is our first foray into the consumer market, and LoveTheWild is the ideal partner,” said Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark, in a news release. “We share the same values when it comes to protecting ocean species and giving people access to delicious, healthy, and sustainable fish so they can eat more fish and reap the benefits from doing so without compromising our planet. In addition, with their dedication to transparency, LoveTheWild takes the guessing out of sustainability and showcases well-farmed fish.”
“Responsible aquaculture has the potential to fight some of the most serious challenges we face as a planet, and will be made or broken by consumer perceptions about seafood,” added Jacqueline Claudia and Christy Brouker, co-founders of LoveTheWild. “Our goal isn’t just to offer sustainable seafood, butto make it the most exciting and in demand consumer protein. In addition to a strategic investment, Aqua-Spark brings industry expertise, which when combined with our product, puts us one step closer to changing the way Americans think about farmed seafood.”
LoveTheWild CFO Bill Mark said not only is Aqua-Spark an ideal partner in the sector – it’s the partner the company had been hoping to acquire all along.
“It’s rare in the early-stage fundraising space for entrepreneurs to actually get a deal done with the firm they wanted all along and at terms that are a win-win for both sides, and that’s what happened here,” Mark said. “We are very excited about the partnership with Aqua-Spark and look forward to building an exciting brand with them in the coming years.”
Previous investments for Aqua-Spark include those made to California, U.S.A.-based biotech fishmeal company Calysta as well as Chicoa Fish Farm, a Mozambique-based fish farming operation. Aqua-Spark invested a combined USD 4 million (3.7 million) in those firms back in February 2015.
Among LoveTheWild’s product portfolio are six easy-to-prepare sustainable fish and sauce combinations, including “Mango Sriracha Chutney” and “Roasted Red Pepper Almond.” Such products “encourage consumers to think beyond traditional fish, such as salmon, and try a range of environmentally-friendly options, like barramundi or striped bass,” according to the company news release.