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AQUA Cultured Foods Partners with Ginkgo Bioworks to Optimize Alt-Seafood Production

March 27, 2024

The partners will work to optimize AQUA Cultured Foods' fermentation technology and advance the development and production of AQUA's 100% fish-free products that emulate the look, feel, and taste of fresh-caught seafood

CHICAGO and BOSTON, March 27, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- AQUA Cultured Foods, a food tech company producing alternative seafood options through the use of microbial fermentation, and Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), which is building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity, today announced a new partnership. AQUA has chosen Ginkgo to help optimize its innovative fermentation technology to elevate the quality of its fish-free seafood products that authentically replicate the look, feel, and taste of fresh-caught seafood. Leveraging Ginkgo's microbial characterization and analytics, along with AQUA's proprietary strains and processes, the partners aim to transform the future of alt-seafood production.

AQUA is a leader in the alternative seafood industry, delivering products with the texture, taste, and appearance of fresh-caught seafood filets, without using any fish or animal inputs. Their debut offerings, tuna, and scallops, maintain freshness and tenderness for six weeks. Powered by a patent-pending fermentation process, which can be scaled on a global level, AQUA's fish-free seafood is made from microbes and fibers combined with plant-derived flavors that replicate the buttery texture and umami notes found in fresh-caught seafood. Unlike traditional seafood, AQUA's products contain no contaminants, antibiotics, allergens, cholesterol or saturated fats, and can be consumed and enjoyed by those with diverse dietary needs, including pregnant people and those with shellfish allergies.

The AQUA team uses a consortium of microbes that work synergistically to make its appetizing and affordable products. Ginkgo will leverage its high throughput next-generation sequencing and advanced analytics services to help optimize and tune AQUA's strains to aid in the scale-up of their novel manufacturing process. With Ginkgo, AQUA hopes to amplify its R&D capabilities and further optimize its consortium to establish consistent, high-quality products. Through this, AQUA envisions a future where its proprietary microbe consortium can be used to produce not just whole-cut and ground alt-seafood products, but also introduce unique flavors and textures to the broader food industry. This inaugural partnership paves the way for future projects leveraging Ginkgo's strain engineering capabilities as well.

AQUA's fermentation process provides an alternative to fishing and fish farming. Research shows that there are serious health risks associated with eating both wild-caught seafood from the ocean and farmed fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that contaminated fish are a persistent source of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury in the human diet. Eating farmed fish comes with the added risk of consuming antibiotics and pesticides. Both the fishing and fish farming industries cause detrimental environmental damage. Wild fisheries have been depleted worldwide, causing scientists to fear their impending collapse. Industrial fishing practices, such as bottom trawling and long-lining, affect endangered animals such as sea turtles, dolphins, and whales. Untreated waste from farmed fish — including excess feed, decomposing fish, excrement, and chemical residue — can pollute waterways and create toxic algal blooms that kill wild aquatic life. AQUA is confident that its products deliver the experience of eating seafood without the health or environmental risks associated with traditional seafood.

Stefan Baier, PhD, Chief Science Officer of AQUA Cultured Foods: "Today marks a significant step towards revolutionizing alternative seafood production. AQUA's commitment to sustainable seafood aligns with Ginkgo's dedication to innovation. Our partnership aims to accelerate our technology, bringing our delicious products to market faster. With Ginkgo's expertise in working with microbes, we are confident in optimizing and applying our technology to create the most delicious seafood products possible. Beyond sequencing, we envision engineering our proprietary consortium for next-gen products, pushing alt-seafood boundaries with unique textures and building the nutrition beyond a good source of fiber. We look forward to how our sustainable approach can revolutionize the fishing industry and contribute to the regeneration of our oceans."

Mervyn de Souza, Senior Director, Business Development at Ginkgo Bioworks: "We couldn't be happier to partner with AQUA and get to work with their cutting-edge technology. This collaboration aligns beautifully with our commitment to work on projects that embody innovation and sustainability. AQUA's groundbreaking fermentation technology is reshaping the future of alt-seafood, and we at Ginkgo are thrilled to contribute to this transformative journey. Together, we're paving the way for a more sustainable and responsible approach to meeting the world's growing food demands."

AQUA will also be at Ginkgo's annual Ferment conference this year on April 11th. Baier will be presenting at the conference, and AQUA products will be available for conference attendees to taste.

About Ginkgo Bioworks

Ginkgo Bioworks is the leading horizontal platform for cell programming, providing flexible, end-to-end services that solve challenges for organizations across diverse markets, from food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals to industrial and specialty chemicals. Ginkgo's biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, is building global infrastructure for biosecurity to empower governments, communities, and public health leaders to prevent, detect and respond to a wide variety of biological threats. For more information, visit ginkgobioworks.com and concentricbyginkgo.com, read our blog, or follow us on social media channels such as X (@Ginkgo and @ConcentricByGBW), Instagram (@GinkgoBioworks), Threads (@GinkgoBioworks) or LinkedIn.

About AQUA Cultured Foods

Aqua Cultured Foods is an innovative food technology startup developing the world's first whole-cut seafood alternatives through microbial fermentation. Its novel technology produces sustainable, fish-free tuna, scallops and more using only a fraction of the resources required by traditional aquaculture. With a focus on product commercialization, AQUA occupies a unique position in the burgeoning alt-protein market as well as within the fermentation industry. The company's mission is to mitigate global challenges such as overfishing, climate change and feeding the world's expanding population with delicious, nutrient-rich foods. For more information visit https://www.aquaculturedfoods.com.

Forward-Looking Statements of Ginkgo Bioworks

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws, including statements regarding the capabilities and potential success of the partnership and Ginkgo's cell programming platform. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words "believe," "can," "project," "potential," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "intend," "strategy," "future," "opportunity," "plan," "may," "should," "will," "would," "will be," "will continue," "will likely result," and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to: (i) volatility in the price of Ginkgo's securities due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which Ginkgo operates and plans to operate, variations in performance across competitors, and changes in laws and regulations affecting Ginkgo's business, (ii) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations, and to identify and realize additional business opportunities, (iii) the risk of downturns in demand for products using synthetic biology, (iv) the uncertainty regarding the demand for passive monitoring programs and biosecurity services, (v) changes to the biosecurity industry, including due to advancements in technology, emerging competition and evolution in industry demands, standards and regulations, (vi) the outcome of any pending or potential legal proceedings against Ginkgo, (vii) our ability to realize the expected benefits from and the success of our Foundry platform programs, (viii) our ability to successfully develop engineered cells, bioprocesses, data packages or other deliverables, and (ix) the product development or commercialization success of our customers. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the "Risk Factors" section of Ginkgo's annual report on Form 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on February 29, 2024 and other documents filed by Ginkgo from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and Ginkgo assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Ginkgo does not give any assurance that it will achieve its expectations.

GINKGO BIOWORKS INVESTOR CONTACT:
investors@ginkgobioworks.com 

GINKGO BIOWORKS MEDIA CONTACT:
press@ginkgobioworks.com

AQUA CULTURED FOODS CONTACT:
press@aquaculturedfoods.com 

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SOURCE Ginkgo Bioworks

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