UK-based tempeh brand Better Nature has secured a £350,000 grant from Innovate UK to develop an all-natural plant-based fish made using food by-products.

The brand aims to produce the ‘first animal-free fish analogue that is physically, visually, nutritionally and sensorially equivalent, if not superior, to fish’ with a newly developed method that applies tempeh fermentation to food industry by-products.

“While demand for animal protein is increasing, 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are depleted,” says Driando Ahnan-Winarno, co-founder and CTO, who is leading the project along with fellow co-founder and COO Fabio Rinaldo. “The chances of a meaningful transition to more sustainable, plant-based alternatives to fish are hampered by technical barriers in replicating its structure, taste and nutrition. Tempeh fermentation, combined with co-inoculation and natural encapsulation techniques, tackles just this. At Better Nature, we want to address this gap through an appealing and affordable fish analogue, made using all-natural and sustainable sources.”

Better Nature will be supported on the project by fermentation companies across Europe, including Nucaps Nanotechnology, SL and Neoalgae Micro Seaweeds Products in Spain, and the Centre of Food and Fermentation Technologies in Estonia.

The project will run until 2024 and Better Nature is looking to commercialize the product in European markets by 2026.

Image: (L-R) Driando Ahnan-Winarno and Fabio Rinaldo of Better Nature with members of the Centre of Food and Fermentation Technologies, Estonia