Housed in cargo containers, Atarraya’s ‘plug-and-play,’ AI-powered Shrimpbox delivers up to 10x the ROI of traditional poultry or swine farming, creating new opportunities for farmers — even in landlocked, highly populated areas.
The tech world is abuzz with a bevy of intrepid innovators directing their talents toward future-proofing our broken, unsustainable food system: Recent notables include Beewise — a network of robotic beekeepers restoring the health of our most important pollinators; Aqua Cultured Foods — on a mission to give our overexploited oceans a rest with a fungi-based seafood alternative; Supplant — which has developed a new category of sugars that performs like sugar in the kitchen while retaining the nutritional properties of fiber, and mitigates the impacts of one of the world’s most environmentally destructive crops; and Aleph Farms — offering beef lovers around the world a cultivated version of the dish they love without the deleterious depletion of natural resources inherent in conventional livestock agriculture.
Today marks the launch of the newest hopeful: foodtech startup Atarraya, creator of Shrimpbox — the first sustainable ‘plug-and-play’ shrimp farming technology and the aquaculture equivalent to agriculture’s vertical farming — which the company and its backers are hailing as the future of sustainable protein production. With Shrimpbox, Atarraya is on a mission to bring fresh, locally produced shrimp to every corner of the earth.
Housed in traditional, portable cargo containers that can be located anywhere — even in landlocked, urban areas — Shrimpbox’s AI-powered, automated system remotely monitors water quality, regulates temperature and oxygenation, and feeds the shrimp. The technology offers farmers a viable, new revenue source that delivers up to 10 times the ROI of poultry or swine farming and overcomes many of the challenges associated with traditional farming, including cost and environmental impact.
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“We’ve spent the past 10 years diligently working to bring Shrimpbox to market and are now ready to begin rolling it out at industry-level scale,” said Daniel Russek, CEO and founder of Atarraya. “Our proprietary technology decreases the environmental impact and cost of traditional shrimp farming or trawling. It allows for the production of fresh, sustainable and local shrimp farms to be set up anywhere in the world as a vertical aquaculture farm that generates nearly 10x the return on investment to farmers.”
Shrimp sales volume increased from 275 to 415m pounds in the past five years. Unfortunately, with the staggering demand for shrimp comes environmental impact and labor issues. Trawling for shrimp in the ocean degrades or destroys delicate seabeds, which take years to recover. Existing shrimp farms require enough water for a city of 500K and often contaminate groundwater; and working conditions for shrimpers in many countries are harrowing. Atarraya converts shrimping’s outdated production and business model with an eye to environmental balance, while also ensuring consumers have a consistent source for sustainable, locally produced, fresh shrimp.
Shrimpbox integrates Atarraya’s biotechnology, software and hardware to produce fresh shrimp sustainably:
Biotechnology: Shrimpbox utilizes biofloc technology that emulates how shrimp grow in the oceans. 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.
Software: Allows for remote management of production units without the need for specialized personnel. All relevant workflows can be mapped to deal with data complexity. The use of software also enables consistency, remote control of the network and makes it easy to train and perform farming tasks and operations.
Engineering and automation: Designed to ensure consistent production and economic viability, even in countries with high labor costs. Enables fast reaction times, tighter controls and minimizes labor costs. The AI-powered, plug-and-play technology allows anyone — even those with no prior farming or aquaculture experience — to become a shrimp farmer.
Atarraya recently raised a $3.9M Series A funding round at a post-Series A valuation of $41M. 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.
“Shrimpbox produces real shrimp — the shrimp are not cultivated in labs or grown from stem cells. They are identical to wild shrimp, because Shrimpbox mimics the ideal breeding environment of wild shrimp in the ocean,” Kalish explains. “Investing in Atarraya was an obvious choice. Shrimpbox offers the rare chance to do the right thing for the environment, meet consumer demand, and open up new possibilities within farming and aquaculture.”
The first 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).