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3rd April 2024  Content supplied by: Ginkgo Bioworks

AQUA and Ginkgo Partner to Enhance Fish-Free Seafood Production

  • AQUA's fish-free seafood, made from microbes and plant-derived flavors, replicates the texture and taste of fresh-caught seafood.
  • Ginkgo will use its high throughput next-generation sequencing and advanced analytics services to optimize and tune AQUA's strains for the scale-up of their novel manufacturing process.
  • The partnership paves the way for future projects leveraging Ginkgo's strain engineering capabilities.

AQUA has chosen Ginkgo to help optimize its innovative fermentation technology, elevating the quality of its fish-free seafood products that authentically replicate the look, feel, and taste of fresh-caught seafood. Leveraging Ginkgo's microbial characterization and analytics, along with AQUA's proprietary strains and processes, the partners aim to transform the future of alt-seafood production.

AQUA is a leader in the alternative seafood industry, delivering products with fresh-caught seafood filets' texture, taste, and appearance without using any fish or animal inputs. Their debut offerings, tuna, and scallops, maintain freshness and tenderness for six weeks. Powered by a patent-pending fermentation process, which can be scaled globally, AQUA's fish-free seafood is made from microbes and fibers combined with plant-derived flavors that replicate the buttery texture and umami notes found in fresh-caught seafood. Unlike traditional seafood, AQUA's products contain no contaminants, antibiotics, allergens, cholesterol or saturated fats. Those with diverse dietary needs can consume and enjoy them, including pregnant people and those with shellfish allergies.

The AQUA team uses a consortium of microbes that work synergistically to make its appetizing and affordable products. Ginkgo will leverage its high throughput next-generation sequencing and advanced analytics services to help optimize and tune AQUA's strains to aid in the scale-up of their novel manufacturing process. With Ginkgo, AQUA hopes to amplify its R&D capabilities and further optimize its consortium to establish consistent, high-quality products. Through this, AQUA envisions a future where its proprietary microbe consortium can be used to produce not just whole-cut and ground alt-seafood products, but also introduce unique flavors and textures to the broader food industry. This inaugural partnership paves the way for future projects leveraging Ginkgo's strain engineering capabilities as well.

AQUA's fermentation process provides an alternative to fishing and fish farming. Research shows serious health risks are associated with eating both wild-caught seafood from the ocean and farmed fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that contaminated fish are a persistent source of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury in the human diet. Eating farmed fish comes with the added risk of consuming antibiotics and pesticides. Both the fishing and fish farming industries cause detrimental environmental damage. Wild fisheries have been depleted worldwide, causing scientists to fear their impending collapse. Industrial fishing practices, such as bottom trawling and long-lining, affect endangered animals such as sea turtles, dolphins, and whales. Untreated waste from farmed fish — including excess feed, decomposing fish, excrement, and chemical residue — can pollute waterways and create toxic algal blooms that kill wild aquatic life. AQUA is confident that its products deliver the experience of eating seafood without the health or environmental risks associated with traditional seafood.

Stefan Baier, PhD, Chief Science Officer of AQUA Cultured Foods: "Today marks a significant step towards revolutionizing alternative seafood production. AQUA's commitment to sustainable seafood aligns with Ginkgo's dedication to innovation. 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 optimizing and applying our technology to create the most delicious seafood products possible. 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 fiber. We look forward to how our sustainable approach can revolutionize the fishing industry and contribute to the regeneration of our oceans."

Mervyn de Souza, Senior Director of business Development at Ginkgo Bioworks: "We couldn't be happier to partner with AQUA and work with their cutting-edge technology. This collaboration aligns beautifully with our commitment to working 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."

AQUA will also be at Ginkgo's annual Ferment conference this year on April 11th, 2024. Baier will present at the conference, and AQUA products will be available for attendees to taste.

Visit Gingko Bioworks or AQUA Cultured Foods for more.



Date Published: 3rd April 2024

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