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Plant-Based Seafood Startup The ISH Company Leverages New Wave of Funding for Pipeline Commercialization TechCrunch

A heart attack three years ago was a wake-up call for Bernard David, founder and CEO of the ISH company. After being told he would eat only plants for the rest of his life, he found that this diet eventually made him “crave those old animals I used to eat”.

Instead of giving in to that urge, David started looking for a plant-based company to invest in. Not finding exactly what he was looking for, he founded the ISH Company around a central pillar of sustainability and health. ISH stands for Innovative, Sustainable and Healthy.

ISH started with plant-based fish because two-thirds of fish is consumed out of doors, says David. In addition, the ecological footprint of shrimp production was found to cause four times more greenhouse gas emissions than beef.

The B Corp-certified company does something unique with its products, what David calls a “whole systems approach,” by comparing every ingredient that goes into ISH’s foods against peer-reviewed scientific literature to make sure it’s nutritionally healthy.

And to get the product as close as possible to traditional seafood, the company identified more than 25 different textures during R&D. The products are also made from natural ingredients, such as coconut and algae, to mimic the taste of shrimp and other seafood products, which remains a challenge for plant-based and cultured meat brands to succeed.

“We don’t create what I call ‘Franken Foods,’ or highly processed foods,” David told TechCrunch. “Nobody does that kind of screening. For example, methylcellulose is quite abundant in many plant foods. However, it is irritating to the intestines and also a diuretic. We don’t think it makes sense to put such ingredients in products.”

Today, the company announced a more than $5 million seed round to accelerate the growth and development of its plant-based nutritional products pipeline, of which shrimp and shrimp crumbles are currently on the market. The round was led by ACCELR8 with participation from Stray Dog Capital and a group of angel investors. To date, ISH has raised a total of $10 million.

The plant-based seafood market is growing as more startups come online with products and venture capital. Plantish falls into this category, raising $12 million last year to develop its plant-based salmon fillets. Lisa Feria, CEO of Stray Dog Capital, said in a statement that plant-based seafood is on the verge of reaching $500 million in sales while the value of the market is poised to soar. reach $1.6 billion in the next 10 years.

ISH launched Shrimpish in early 2022 and is already generating revenue, though David declined to go into details. David plans to use the new capital to support the commercialization of the company’s current products and a robust product portfolio of more than 25 products, including salmon, cod, crab and lobster alternatives that will have the same taste and texture as their traditional counterparts. A plant-based scallop product is also on the way, he said.

ISH will also focus on future partnerships. The company already has a partnership with fish producer Thai Union, which distributes ISH’s products to restaurants, colleges and universities across the country and in Europe. David believes this gives the company an advantage.

“There is a high failure cost in seafood,” he added. “People get nervous about how to make it, but chefs know how to make seafood products and meals.”

Then David said that ISH is working on market development, especially in Europe. The company also receives inquiries from Asia.

“We need to make sure that we have a very efficient and cost-effective gross margin positive target in manufacturing,” he said. “We also need to make sure we have a very robust pipeline – we don’t want to come across as a one-trick pony.”

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