Alt seafood pioneer Plantish, which uses plant proteins to create premium, whole-cut fish, has raised $12.45 million in seed funding, the largest seed round to date in the burgeoning alternative seafood market.
The round was led by State Of Mind Ventures, with participation from Pitango Health Tech, Unovis Capital, TechAviv Founder Partners, SmartAgro, E2JDJ, Alumni Ventures, and OurCrowd. The company had previously raised $2 million in pre-seed funding in June 2021, from TechAviv Founder Partners, a venture fund backed by top industry veterans, and angel investors including Chef José Andrés, and Nuseir Yassin from Nas Daily.
“Cracking wholecut seafood is the next big opportunity in our quest for impact and sustainability,” said Merav Rotem Naaman, General Partner at State Of Mind Ventures. “When we met the world-class team at Plantish we knew that they had the passion, vision and capability to pull off the seemingly impossible task of producing a true upgrade to fish”.
Founded in mid-2021, Plantish’s mission is to save the oceans through production of plant-based, whole-cut fish fillets that are similar in taste, texture, and nutrition to conventional fish. ”
We’ve already seen it happen in the meat market, now it’s the time for fish,” says Ofek Ron, CEO and Co-Founder, “and in particular salmon, which accounts for $50 billion in the half a trillion dollar seafood market. The problem has been that fish is so difficult to replicate until now.”
Over 70% of conventional fish is consumed globally in whole-cut form, either as whole fish or fillets (Statista Fish & Seafood Report, 2021). However, the alternative seafood sector primarily consists of minced fish options, such as fish fingers and fried fish, due to the technical complexities of whole-cut production.
Plantish has overcome this by developing a versatile, patent-pending additive manufacturing technology designed to produce plant-based fish alternatives. By deconstructing salmon to understand its different components, the team of experts is able to create plant-based connective tissue and muscle tissue, and uses this in their technology to create Plantish, one super-fine layer at a time.
Their first product is Plantish salmon™, which mimics cooked salmon in taste, texture, appearance, and structure, whilst also having the same nutritional values as its conventional counterpart, with high protein and Omega-3 content. Plantish’s current prototype can be prepared and cooked in all the methods that conventional salmon is prepared. According to Ron, the Plantish vision “is to be the world’s leading seafood brand.”
A new poll conducted by Sprouts Farmers Market and One Poll in 2021 showed that more than half of young Americans aged 24-39 are identifying themselves as flexitarians, and are actively seeking alternatives that have the same taste and nutritional value. “We love fish and are not trying to change what consumers want,” said Ron. “We are just offering a delicious upgrade to salmon that is safer for you and better for the planet. No antibiotics, no hormones, no mercury, no bycatch, and no compromise.”
The new funds will go towards building out the team and conducting further R&D to accelerate product development, with the goal being to get into foodservice first. Ron explained, “We understand that over 60% of seafood is eaten outside the home, and salmon is among the most popular fish and animal protein in the world. Therefore we are focusing our efforts on the foodservice route and you can expect to see us in fine dining restaurants within the next two years.”
The founders of Plantish are a mix of serial entrepreneurs, bioengineering and chemistry PhDs, and foodtech executives:
Ofek Ron, former Vegan Friendly GM, Dr. Ron Sicsic, former Enviro founder, Dr. Hila Elimelech, Chemistry PhD, Dr. Ariel Szklanny, Bioengineering PhD, and Eyal Briller, former Director of Product at Impossible Foods.
Plantish will be launching Plantish salmon™ in pop-up locations at the end of the year, and will be officially launching their product nation-wide in restaurants by 2024.