US venture-capital firm Big Idea Ventures has invested an undisclosed sum in Bayou Best Foods, assisting the plant-based shrimp alternatives start-up with its launch.

Bayou Best Foods has been born out of the investor’s Generation Food Rural Partners Fund (GFRP). It marks its eighth investment from the fund.

To assist with the launch of Bayou Best Foods, the GFRP has acquired “a portfolio of proven intellectual property” from the seafood alternatives producer New Wave Foods, which ceased production in 2023.

When asked what aspects of New Wave’s IP the brand would acquire, Bayou Best Foods CEO Kelli Wilson told Just Food it had access to the brand’s “formulations, processing methods, and product specifications”, but not any factories or manufacturing equipment.

In its early stages, the brand will focus on producing plant-based shrimp products for the US market, Wilson said.

Its products will first be sold via foodservice channels. Bayou Best Foods intends to “expand to other regions as the interest grows and the economies of scale are achieved”, Wilson said.

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The business expects its plant-based shrimp to be on the US market by the fourth quarter of the year.

Wilson declined to disclose how much had been invested in the launch of the brand so far. She said: “GFRP has a proven model of funding the companies it launches and will follow its model of seed and follow-on funding sufficient to bring product to market.”

Bayou Best Foods’ products are made from a mixture of konnyaku rice, mung bean protein and seaweed extract. The group plans to enter “adjacent categories” to shrimp down the line.

In a statement, Emily Linett, director of strategic partnerships of the GFRP Fund, said: “There are significant environmental, human rights, and fraud issues in the seafood industry. Bayou Best’s products align with the growing demand for sustainable protein options, driven by consumer concerns about seafood sustainability and a desire for animal-free alternatives.

“This investment furthers GFRP’s mission of launching innovative companies while creating living wage jobs in rural communities.”

Wilson added: “Our mission is to provide a product that can replace shrimp in any traditional menu or dish. Consumers who have seafood allergies or who have decreased their shrimp consumption due to other health concerns, can confidently eat Bayou Best seafood and feel good about their choice.

“I am excited and honoured to be part of this exciting launch and look forward to leading Bayou Best as we build the future of animal-free seafood.”