USA –  Kuenhle AgroSystem (KAS), a Hawaii-based startup specializing in microalgae-derived products for the food, feed, and health industries, has secured US$3 million in a Series A2 funding round led by S2G Ventures. 

The investment underscores the growing interest in innovative solutions to replace synthetic astaxanthin with natural alternatives, addressing a market estimated at approximately US$2.34 billion annually.

At the forefront of this movement is KAS, which aims to leverage its patented ‘dark fermentation’ technology to revolutionize astaxanthin production. 

Unlike traditional methods that are time-consuming and resource-intensive, KAS’s process promises higher yields, faster growth times, and reduced water and energy consumption. 

By utilizing all-natural algal strains and standard fermentation equipment, KAS can produce astaxanthin in a matter of days at just 10% of the cost compared to conventional methods.

Claude Kaplan, CEO of KAS, highlighted the significance of the company’s breakthrough technology. 

Our lead product is the clinically proven, but expensive to produce, super antioxidant astaxanthin,” Kaplan stated. “By optimizing our production process, we aim to make natural astaxanthin more accessible and sustainable for the aquaculture industry.”

The funding will support KAS’s plans to scale up production to an industrial level, with a target market launch in 2024. 

Partnering with European-based production specialist Biorea, a wholly owned subsidiary of French farming cooperative Agrial, KAS aims to capitalize on Biorea’s algae fermentation expertise to bring its product to market effectively.

KAS’s innovative approach has attracted attention from investors and industry players alike. Aqua-Spark, a fund focused on sustainable aquaculture businesses globally, previously invested in KAS in 2022, recognizing the company’s potential to revolutionize the feed industry.

Astaxanthin, renowned for its role as a pigment and antioxidant, is widely used in feed for salmonids and shrimp. While synthetic astaxanthin dominates the market, demand for natural alternatives is on the rise, driven by increased interest in organic farming and sustainable production practices.

KAS’s technology not only offers a cost-effective solution but also holds promise for creating fully circular algal products by recycling gas generated during fermentation. 

With successful feeding trials conducted on Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, and whiteleg shrimp, KAS is poised to disrupt the astaxanthin market with its sustainable and efficient production methods.

As competition in the sector grows, fueled by initiatives like Asteasier and alternative producers like KnipBio and JX Nippon, KAS remains committed to advancing sustainable aquaculture practices and revolutionizing astaxanthin production for the benefit of the industry and the environment.

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