Icelandic plant-based start-up Loki Foods has recently raised $650,000 (€647,706) in pre-seed funding to develop a new range of alternative seafood products, starting with Atlantic cod fillets.
The company, formed in early 2022, claims to be the first to produce plant-based seafood alternatives in Iceland and counts among its initial investors Sustainable Food Ventures, MGMT Ventures, VegInvest, FoodHack, Kale United, Lifely VC, and other angel investors.
Cod has been incredibly important for Iceland and the North Atlantic for centuries.
“[It] accounts for 20 percent of the Iceland catch yet is 40 percent of the value - giving it its name of ‘white gold’,” Chris McClure, CEO and co-founder of Loki Foods, told IntraFish.
But with growing populations, a climate emergency and unstable supply, consumers need a serious plant-based cod alternative, he said.
Loki Foods is targeting the full range of consumers with its new products, from purely plant-based consumers, to those reducing their intake, to those wanting to try something new.
The recent funding round is for further product development and launching into initial markets, said McClure, but the company will be raising further capital “to develop additional seafood alternatives and to capitalize on growing interest across Europe and the Americas.”
Without going into details of how or with what the Atlantic cod fillets will be made, citing proprietary information, McClure said the product uses sustainable raw materials and 100 percent renewable energy.
“With a growing product line, we love to be creative with all types of sustainably and ethically sourced ingredients, including algae, wheat, fermented oils, seaweed and so much more," he said.
The idea and inspiration for Loki Foods and the company’s initial products came from McClure's "sense of urgency" to address climate and environmental issues, while at the same time creating a product that honored Iceland's heritage.
The demand for plant-based and cultivated meat, dairy, seafood and poultry has been accelerating over the past few years.
Alternative seafood, as it is now known, has been growing even more rapidly in the last few years, with estimates between 20 and 30 percent year on year, according to McClure.
“We need plant-based and cultivated analogues alongside all existing animal-based foods and products… The same goes for seafood,” he said.
“From whitefish to salmon to caviar to lobster and oysters, every region of the world will need options that are sustainably sourced from plant ingredients and cell cultivation.”
Consumers are demanding plant-based and alternative options to animal-based products, said McClure. And that market is growing in addition to the increasing demand for conventionally animal-based food sectors, like seafood, he said.
"This is an additional category that will only make the entire seafood sector grow more stably in the face of consumer demands and population growth."