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AI-enabled portable shrimp farming to launch in the US

Shrimp could soon become a form of sustainable protein.

Foodtech startup Atarraya has launched Shrimpbox in the US – a scalable aquaculture offering that can switch shrimp harvest from ocean trawling and mangrove destruction to portable boxes housed anywhere in the world.

Atarraya’s latest funding round enables it to scale its proprietary Shrimpbox technology globally.

The vision of Atarraya is for Shrimpbox to be a leading source of sustainable protein in the future.

Shrimpbox has the potential to disrupt traditional shrimp farming, which has caused severe harm to the environment and workers.

Technology to produce shrimp in a more sustainable way on a global scale helps put a more compelling picture together of the future of food that does not exploit the environment, animals and earth’s strained resources.  Creating a solution that can be deployed in old cargo containers provides a unique solution for shrimp demand.

As it stands, demand for shrimp has rocketed in recent years, with a direct impact in terms of trawling, which has led to the destruction of delicate sea beds that are slow to recover. At the same time, coastal shrimp farming has destroyed mangrove forests essential as nature-based solutions to climate change, and farmed shrimp has negative water impacts.

In the US alone in the five years to 2021, the volume of shrimp sold increased from 275 million pounds to 415 million pounds.

Private equity is identifying new solutions to sustainability problems

Atarraya recently raised a $3.9 million Series A funding round at a post-Series A valuation of $41 million. The Series A funding was led by Jeffrey Horing and other angel investors, including Mark K. Gormley, Geoffry Kalish, Robert Stavis, and Robert Goodman, and brings Atarraya’s total funding to date to $10 million. Atarraya will use the new funds to scale its proprietary Shrimpbox technology globally and to launch its US headquarters in Indianapolis.

From environmental destruction to vertical aquaculture

Atarraya’s CEO Daniel Russek has spent ten years bringing his portable shrimp farming technology to market on an industrial scale.  According to the company, Shrimpbox mimics an ideal breeding environment and its AI manages the complexity of the microbial community.

The company has designed proprietary software that makes remote management of the production units possible, without the need for specialised personnel in the field. All relevant workflows are mapped to deal with the necessary data complexity to run such an operation.

Russsek says his vertical aquaculture farms offer the production of fresh, sustainable and local shrimps without the cost, sprawling supply chains and egregious impacts of bottom trawling for shrimp and those of shrimp farms, whilst generating nearly 10X the return on investment to farmers.

Real shrimp grow in safe conditions and easy to deploy

Atarraya’s shrimp are not cultivated in labs but bred using the company’s biofloc technology. Biofloc nourishes a microbial ecosystem that provides an environment in which the shrimp are protected and able to mature — with minimal need for water discharge. The biofloc system eliminates the risk of disease and the need for antibiotics and other harmful chemicals, creating better genetics that enables the shrimp farming industry to become vertical aquaculture farming.

Shrimpbox is a ‘plug-and-play’ technology that can be used anywhere around the world with no prior farming or aquaculture experience necessary. Shrimpbox prototypes are already in operation in the coastal community of Guapinole, Oaxaca, Mexico. A Shrimpbox farm for training and demo purposes is also slated to open later this year in partnership with the State of Indiana’s IEDC (Indiana Economic Development Corporation).

Another element in a sustainable food tech architecture?

“Atarraya has figured out how to grow animal protein in a natural, scalable, sustainable way,” said Gabriel Tolchinsky, Atarraya investor. “The science, engineering and technology that Atarraya has developed to grow shrimp in its Shrimpboxes, near population centers and away from oceans, is potentially revolutionary. The Shrimpbox mimics the wild habitat of shrimp and produces shrimp that taste great and consumers will crave; producing shrimp near big cities will also mean that consumers gain access to fresh, never frozen shrimp – truly game-changing.”

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