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The ISH Co., a maker of plant-based seafood alternatives, has raised more than $5 million in an oversubscribed seed round. The startup has raised a total of nearly $10 million to date.
Founded in 2020, The ISH Co. is building a portfolio of vegan substitutes to salmon, cod, crab and lobster. Its initial offering, Shrimpish, debuted last year. Developed to taste and cook like shrimp, the product is formulated with green coconut, soy protein and konjac and served at various restaurants, colleges and universities across the country.
Innovative, Sustainable, and Healthy, or ISH, will use the money to support expansion and the creation of new products while also setting the groundwork for future collaborations. The startup and Thai Union Group, the parent company of Chicken of the Sea, have partnered in marketing and distribution.
“The plant-based market has seen incredible growth over the past couple of years, but there is a massive lack of seafood substitutes,” said Bernard David, chief executive officer and founder of The ISH Co. “Currently, two-thirds of seafood is consumed away from home, which is why we’ve focused on providing healthy and sustainable plant-based seafood alternatives to diversify plant-based offerings for consumers initially at restaurants and universities.”
The seed round was led by ACCELR8 with participation from Stray Dog Capital and multiple angel investors.
“The opportunity to support a company that’s making significant strides in providing a more environmentally friendly way to eat seafood was a huge draw for our team,” shared Justin Kern, partner, at ACCELR8, which invests in companies pioneering solutions to reduce the impacts of climate change. “We believe the ISH team is uniquely positioned to make a splash in the plant-based seafood market, without sacrificing health and environmental concerns.”
Lisa Feria, CEO at Stray Dog Capital, added, “ISH is helping people gain access to healthy, sustainable, and delicious plant-based seafood, a market in which we see tremendous opportunity. The plant-based seafood category has the potential to make up over $500 million in sales, and we’re excited to include ISH in our portfolio as this figure continues to grow.”
During a presentation at IFT FIRST, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and exhibition, the food innovation intelligence firm Spoonshot highlighted faux fish as a growing trend. The business possibility for seafood substitutes was explored by Kishan Vasani, co-founder and CEO of Spoonshot, who cited the surge in flexitarian and pescatarian diets. Despite the fact that the world’s fish consumption has doubled since 1998 and is expected to nearly double again by 2050, rising ocean temperatures, overfishing, unsustainable fishing methods, and pollution have severely threatened 70% of marine fish populations.
“We’re looking at a very real possibility of a future with limited access to fish and seafood,” Mr. Vasani said. “It has become absolutely vital for innovation in seafood alternatives to happen now.”