New Zealand startup NewFish has emerged from stealth and closed NZ$1.3 million ($816,000) in funding to advance its range of “reimagined” local seafood items that incorporate both plant and animal proteins.

Investors in the pre-seed round included Outset Ventures; Tangaroa Ventures; basketball star Steven Adams; Ngāti Hineuru, a Māori iwi (first nation); Andrea Lee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong sauce brand Lee Kum Kee‘s Family Council; and PāuaCo, a company formed by fishers and processors of New Zealand’s native abalone (called pāua in the Māori language.)

The Auckland-based startup was founded in 2020 with the aim of developing a new class of food products from renewable, nutritious, and “underutilized” marine sources unique to New Zealand. Under the tagline “reimagining New Zealand seafood,” it seeks to leverage on the country’s reputation for high-quality, typically livestock-derived, produce while offering a more sustainable vision of Kiwi provenance at the same time.

Co-founder and general manager Hamish Howard tells AFN that NewFish’s approach “contrasts nicely with the standard New Zealand primary production model: which is to grow and harvest it here, and then put it in a box or can and send it overseas and let others add value to it.”

“A lot of New Zealand’s revenue today is cow-denominated; we don’t see ourselves as taking on that story, as much as complementing and building on it,” adds co-founder and director Alex Worker.

Reimagining seafood
With creative leadership provided by co-founder and acclaimed Kiwi chef Vaughan Mabee — who has previously worked at three Michelin-star Copenhagen restaurant Noma and subscribes to a whole-animal utilization philosophy — NewFish has so far designed two “reimagined” charcuterie products, made from plant and animal-derived ingredients.

The first, which is already commercially available, is a pāua saucisson containing hand-dived blackfoot abalone, kurobuta pork, kelp, and sauvignon blanc; all brought together into sausage form using natural fermentation techniques.

Its second product, due to hit shelves soon, is a completely plant-based ‘ocean mortadella’ comprising a variety of native seaweeds and microalgae.