(Bloomberg) -- U.S. consumers may be able to dine on cell-based fish as soon as this year.
BlueNalu Inc. raised $60 million as the San Diego-based startup seeks to open a trial factory and start testing cultured products at food outlets across the U.S. by year-end. The company is working on completing a regulatory review with the Food and Drug Administration, which could see it become the first to start selling cell-based fish in the $200 billion global seafood market.
Cellular agriculture, which aims to make meat or fish production more environmentally sustainable, is slowly making its way toward consumer plates. A string of startups are building pilot plants to test meat produced in factories for the first time, with the sector attracting record venture-capital funding last year. Eat Just Inc., another California startup, is already selling laboratory-created chicken in Singapore after getting approval last month.
“We have an awful lot of interest from leading food-service establishments across the U.S.,” BlueNalu Chief Executive Officer Lou Cooperhouse said in an interview, declining to name companies. “They will be iconic seafood restaurants that are well known for great, fresh seafood. But also more like fast-casual.”
The $60 million raised in debt financing marked the largest funding round so far in the cell-based seafood sector, BlueNalu said in a statement. Investors include Rage Capital, Agronomics Ltd. and Lewis & Clark AgriFood, it said.
The company plans to first introduce mahi mahi later this year, followed by bluefin tuna. Its almost 40,000-square-foot trial factory will be located in San Diego and is expected to be completed during the third quarter.