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  • Writer's picturePhoebe Fraser

Aqua Cultured Foods partners with Ginkgo Bioworks on alt-seafood

Chicago, US-based foodtech company Aqua Cultured Foods (Aqua) has entered into a new partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks.  

Aqua produces alternative seafood options through the use of microbial fermentation, while Ginkgo Bioworks is working to build a platform for cell programming and biosecurity.  

Aqua has chosen Ginkgo to help optimise its fermentation technology to elevate the quality of its fish-free seafood products that ‘replicate the look, feel and taste’ of fresh-caught seafood. Leveraging Ginkgo's microbial characterisation and analytics, along with Aqua’s proprietary strains and processes, the partners aim to transform the future of alt-seafood production. 

Aqua's offerings, including tuna and scallops, maintain freshness and tenderness for six weeks. Powered by a patent-pending fermentation process, which Aqua says can be scaled on a global level. Its fish-free seafood is made from microbes and fibres combined with plant-derived flavours that are said to replicate the buttery texture and umami notes found in fresh-caught seafood.  

Aqua's fish-free scallop
Aqua's fish-free scallop

Ginkgo will leverage its high throughput sequencing and advanced analytics services to help optimise and tune Aqua’s strains to aid in the scale-up of its novel manufacturing process. With Ginkgo, Aqua hopes to amplify its R&D capabilities and further optimise its consortium to establish consistent, high-quality products.  

Through the partnership, Aqua expects to introduce unique flavours and textures to the broader food industry. 

Stefan Baier, chief science officer at Aqua Cultured Foods, said: "Today marks a significant step towards revolutionising alternative seafood production...Our partnership aims to accelerate our technology, bringing our delicious products to market faster. With Ginkgo's expertise in working with microbes, we are confident in optimising and applying our technology to create the most delicious seafood products possible.” 

He continued: “Beyond sequencing, we envision engineering our proprietary consortium for next-gen products, pushing alt-seafood boundaries with unique textures and building the nutrition beyond a good source of fibre. We look forward to how our sustainable approach can revolutionise the fishing industry and contribute to the regeneration of our oceans."


Mervyn de Souza, senior director, business development at Ginkgo Bioworks, added: "This collaboration aligns beautifully with our commitment to work on projects that embody innovation and sustainability. Aqua’s groundbreaking fermentation technology is reshaping the future of alt-seafood, and we at Ginkgo are thrilled to contribute to this transformative journey. Together, we're paving the way for a more sustainable and responsible approach to meeting the world's growing food demands." 




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