Revo Foods, a developer of 3D printing technology designed to replicate the eating experience of seafood, announced it had completed its first funding round of more than €1.5 million ($1.8 million) to boost its technology development and accelerate market entry. Previously known as Legendary Vish, the Austrian startup created a new technology based on food 3D printing that relies on plant-based ingredients, like pea proteins and algae extracts, that recreate the texture, color, and taste of authentic seafood.
In a post on April 12, 2021, Revo Foods said it closed its first seed round of funding and counted several firms as backers. Companies include Copenhagen investment firm Hazelpond Capital, founded by financial expert Frederik Hasselkjaer; German venture capital firm friends2grow, and California investments and acquisitions experts at MKO Holdings. Other investors include plant- and cell-based food advisor Eva Sommer and angel investor Jens Schumann. The round also received national funds from the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and the Vienna Business Agency.
The startup’s founders Robin Simsa, Theresa Rothenbücher, and Hakan Gürbüz, met as Marie Curie Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) for the international European Union-led research project Training4CRM while exploring cell-based regenerative medicine. The biomedical engineers had previously developed 3D printing processes for medical technology during their graduate projects, but soon after, they decided to make minor adaptations to their platform so they could 3D print plant proteins and binders into a natural, structured form, attempting to supply a novel option to the growing demand of sea-based foods. To proceed with their idea, the team moved into the production of the printing process as part of the GreenStart incubator – an Austrian initiative that aims to find green business ideas in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energies, mobility, and agriculture.
Created to produce sustainable plant-based “fish” using 3D printing, the startup has focused on products that would allow environmentally conscious consumers enjoy plant-based fish without the downsides of fishing, like overfishing, marine pollution, and bycatching. As reported by the food media site The Spoon in February 2021, Legendary Vish rebranded to Revo Foods so they would not be tied down to just producing fish alternative products and decided to prioritize other plant-based salmon and tuna products.
Last month, the startup teamed up with Vienna’s Budapest Bagel shop to host the world’s first tasting event for 3D-printed plant-based seafood. Using the motto “the future of seafood has arrived!”, Revo announced the testing through social media, which resulted in over 700 subscribers competing for free tickets to the exclusive event. Finally, on March 6, 2021, big crowds lined up to take the first bite out of a bagel filled with “fake” smoked salmon, part of Revo’s flagship line called “Salmon with Attitude.” The product comprises only 11 ingredients and is high in nutritional content, particularly protein and omega-3 oils. Proud to announce that its salmon contained absolutely no heavy metals, microplastics, antibiotics, or any other waste materials known to be found in industrial aquaculture salmon, the startup described how the brand’s vision pushed them to create a sustainable future with plant-based seafood, leaving overfishing practices in the past.
Analog meat substitutes have been rapidly growing in popularity in the past few years. In fact, a recent market report found that the global alternative fish market is projected to “surge” at an impressive CAGR of around 28% from 2021 to 2031, to top a valuation of $1.3 billion in ten years. Nonetheless, fish substitutes are still not entirely developed. Many ventures are undertaking the difficult task of printing these foods to mimic the texture, color, and taste of genuine animal flesh. However, fish has been challenging to imitate, especially its characteristic tender flaky texture and the rather full, intense, sometimes salty flavor that is very easily distinguished.
The texture of food is super important, says Revo. When developing their flagship product, the startup chose to process natural and healthy ingredients combined for excellent nutritional value and taste, giving it a realistic look. While seeking to create sustainable foods, Revo also optimized its 3D printing process to avoid food waste during production. Considered one of the most challenging environmental issues worldwide, food waste usually falls under the radar of most governments and organizations due to the tremendous financial, ethical, and environmental costs. In 2017, the United Nations estimated that almost a third of all food produced is discarded, which represents a terrible conflict considering that it could have been used to feed people, and results in a waste of resources like water, labor, and energy.
Revo is pushing to create nutritious, rich flavored fish from plants and hopes to revolutionize the food system to preserve a liveable planet for future generations. The first products to hit the market in the summer of 2021 will be smoked salmon strips and a creamy smoked salmon spread. However, the team is also focusing efforts on the development of salmon and tuna sashimi, which is expected to first be available in Austria before expanding to other European markets, and its ongoing collaborations with Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Vienna’s University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU).
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