Aquaculture Startup LocalCoho Raises Millions from Seafood Entrepreneurs

Aquaculture Startup LocalCoho Raises Millions from Seafood Entrepreneurs

LocalCoho produces land-based coho salmon, which is known for its reddish-orange color, firm texture and a milder flavor than its king and sockeye salmon counterparts.

While plant-based and cultured seafood alternatives have been gaining attention recently, aquaculture startup LocalCoho is on a mission to make traditional salmon as sustainable and fresh as possible. The company recently received funding from two seafood industry entrepreneurs to expand production of premium salmon and accomplish its greater mission.

LocalCoho said it plans to use the multimillion-dollar investment to increase harvest capacity at its pilot farm and improve husbandry practices. Investors include Rodger May, owner and chief growth officer of Peter Pan Seafood, and Per Heggelund, former owner and operator of a freshwater land-based coho salmon farm in Washington state.

“This funding from visionaries in seafood will help us refine our expansion plans and sales and marketing strategy,” said Michael Fabbro, president of LocalCoho, in a press release. “These two investors are unmatched in experience and knowledge about how to sustainably farm quality salmon and market it to increasingly discerning and eco-conscious American consumers.”

Related: Israeli Startup Plantish Debuts Whole-Cut Plant-Based Salmon Filets

Prior to this strategic investment, the salmon startup closed a $4.6 million Series A funding round in 2020, which was used to advance the completion of its first facility in Auburn, New York. The facility now has the capacity to produce 350 tons of the Pacific salmon species every year.

Last year, the company opened investment opportunities to the public, with individual investors invited to participate in a fundraise through Harvest Returns, a crowdfunding company that offers passive investments in a range of farming and agribusiness ventures. LocalCoho exceeded its target with a few days to spare, raising $645,000 and beating its original target of $540,000.

The company raises sushi-grade, coho salmon, known for its reddish-orange meat, indoors from egg to harvest. It uses recirculated aquaculture systems (RAS) technology, which was developed to minimize impact on the local environment and wildlife. RAS provides a constant and controlled environment for the fish, allowing for optimal and fully manageable production of African catfish, Tilapia and in the case of LocalCoho, salmon. 

The startup’s salmon is already being served at high-end restaurants throughout the Northeast region including Nobu in New York as well as several other noted restaurants. Starting this month, FreshDirect — a leading online grocer that works directly with growers, producers and local food innovators — will be the first retailer to sell LocalCoho salmon online.

According to a report from 360 Market Updates, the global land-based salmon market size is estimated to be worth $433 million in 2022 and is projected to reach over $2 billion by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31 percent. The major players in the market include Atlantic Sapphire, Danish Salmon, Pure Salmon, Kuterra Limited and Samherji Fiskeldi ltd, which occupy about half of all shares in the global market.

Since land-based salmon like LocalCoho keeps away from polluted waters and controls growth, it is a rapidly developing market within the seafood space. While its main producing area is Europe, LocalCoho is hoping it can be a North American leader in the land-based salmon market. 

“Land-based aquaculture will play a major role in the future of American seafood,” said Rodger May, in the same press release. “LocalCoho is front and center of this emerging industry and its laser focus on quality and sustainability is already yielding excellent results.”