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Seaweed-based cattle supplement firm raises $20 million

Hawai’i’s Blue Ocean Barns has completed a $20 million Series-A financing round, allowing the company to accelerate development on its methane-busting digestive aid for cattle.

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
29 July 2022, at 8:25am
red seaweed in RAS tanks
Blue Ocean Barns red seaweed

Blue Ocean Barns have developed Brominata, a seaweed-based digestive aid for ruminants © Blue Ocean Barns

According to a news release, Blue Ocean Barns has finished a $20 million Series-A funding round, enabling the company to dramatically expand farming and commercial adoption of Brominata, its seaweed-based digestive aid for cattle.

The all-natural seaweed, which is made available at no cost to farmers, has been shown in published research and on-farm trials to safely eliminate more than 80 percent of cows' methane production without changing the taste of milk or meat. The seaweed is added to cattle feed in tiny daily amounts — 0.3 percent of their overall diet. The natural remedy then stops the formation of methane in the cow's rumen, nearly eliminating the emission of the potent greenhouse gas through burps. The methane from burps from one cow is equivalent to the greenhouse gases emitted by one passenger car.

The Series-A round, led by Valor Siren Ventures, includes Tao Capital Partners and strategic investors. The funding brings Blue Ocean Barns' total capital raised to nearly $27 million.

"Methane emissions from cattle, a byproduct of the digestive process, is the largest source of emissions in dairy production. The Blue Ocean Barns' team is focused on solving this massive problem for the industry and uniquely committed to providing the product for free to farmers in partnership with its corporate customers," said Jon Shulkin, co-president and partner at Valor Equity Partners and Valor Siren Ventures Fund Manager. "Our team at Valor Equity Partners is grateful to have the opportunity to back the Blue Ocean Barns team through our investments via Valor Siren Ventures."

Blue Ocean Barns was first to market globally with a safe seaweed digestive aid. Among the companies that have become Blue Ocean Barns partners are dairy pioneers Ben & Jerry's, Clover Sonoma, and Straus Family Creamery.

Earlier this year, the company was granted authorisation to sell Brominata in California by the state's Department of Food and Agriculture. In addition, the United States Patent and Trademark Office allowed a plant patent for Blue Ocean Barns' Brominata, the first ever such patent for a variety of algae or seaweed.

person holding wet grass
Raw seaweed

Brominata is a 100 percent natural digestive aid that helps cows derive more nutritional value, especially energy, from their feed © Blue Ocean Barns

Blue Ocean Barns works directly with companies to reduce GHG emissions from livestock within their own milk and beef supply chains, known as Scope 3 reductions. Companies pay Blue Ocean Barns to deliver the seaweed to their farmers; in return, companies earn verified carbon certificates that substantiate the reductions. These certificates are more valuable than so-called carbon offsets, which allow companies to fund climate-remediation projects outside their industry, such as wetlands restoration.

Blue Ocean Barns will use the funding to expand the company's tank-based farming, harvesting and processing operations. Within the next four years, Blue Ocean Barns and its food company partners are poised to surpass three million tons of net CO₂-equivalent emissions reductions annually from one million cows, growing to 100 million cows by the end of the decade. Feeding a sprinkling of Brominata daily to only the dairy cows in the state of California – less than 2 percent of US cattle -- will have the same annual climate impact as Tesla's global fleet last year.

red seaweed
Blue Ocean Barns' developed Brominata from red seaweed

Brominata is Blue Ocean Barns’ patent-pending variety of Asparagopsis taxiformis seaweed © Blue Ocean Barns

"Both the climate imperative and the investment opportunity resonated with the organisations that participated in our Series-A," said Blue Ocean Barns CEO Joan Salwen. "We are fortunate to bring together these visionary and experienced investors who are both passionate about an enormous impact on global emissions and will help us build on our market leadership."