Food tech startup Aqua Cultured Foods announced that it has begun buildout of a new facility that will enable the company to begin scaling production of its whole-cut plant-based seafood.

The company says its new West Loop space on West Carroll in Chicago nods to the area’s meatpacking history, its current status as a foodie destination and its influx of high-tech companies.

Aqua says that the new facility, which is nearly triple the size of its current headquarters, is already food-grade and needs minimal upgrades to customize it to scale production of its fermentation-enabled protein. Aqua says that its methods are space-efficient, akin to vertical farming, and use standard equipment, allowing for rapid and affordable buildout.

“This move is the final step on the road to commercialization of our alt-seafood, and it’s what we and our supporters have been waiting for,” says Anne Palermo, CEO of Aqua. “Since the new location already meets all the key regulations for food production, we can scale manufacturing quickly, and product introductions with our go-to-market partners will follow.”

Aqua adds that it is developing ultra-realistic calamari, shrimp, scallops, and filets of tuna and whitefish with proprietary mycoprotein fermentation processes that do not use any animal inputs, genetic altering or modification. Unlike plant-based processed foods formulated with starches and protein isolates, Aqua’s says its alt-seafood retains its naturally occurring fiber, protein and other micronutrients.

The company is currently holding tasting events with strategic partners, including restaurants, and expects to introduce products in Q2 2023.