Alternative seafood: it’s more than a trend

Compared to alternative meat and dairy, seafood is a category that is still in its infancy. However, it is a sector that is developing at an impressive pace. It also has the potential to have a huge impact on the food industry. We spoke to some of the experts in this field. Read on to learn what they have to say about the future of alternative seafood.

Alternative seafood is a hot topic in the food space. Consumers want more options and as a lesser tapped market than meat or dairy, there is huge innovation potential in this sector.

Plant-based giant Impossible Foods has already announced it has started working on fish products. Meanwhile, the alternative seafood company, Good Catch, secured $32 million in financing for its plant-based seafood (2020)

It’s not just big players that are jumping on the seafood train though. Entrepreneurs around the world are setting up startups focusing on developing seafood, and with good reason. Take Hooked, Shiok Meats, Avant Meats, Finless Foods, Kuleana, and New Wave Foods for example.

The founders of Hooked Seafood, Emil Wasteson and Tom Johansson

Currently, plant-based seafood makes up just 1% ($9.5 million) of total plant-based meat sales in the US. Approximately 91% of those sales come from the frozen section.

A consumer survey by ProVeg shows that it is one of the key areas for innovation in the food space and also what consumers are interested in. In short, plant-based seafood is the white space on the market.

An innovative solution to a global problem

Alternative seafood is much more than a good business idea or the latest food trend; it’s a solution to a real, global problem. Nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted.

From 1990 to 2018, there was a 122% increase in the amount of fish being eaten by people globally. In 2016, 150-million tonnes of seafood was produced for human consumption.

We held a webinar in December, 2020, in partnership with NX-Food, where we immersed ourselves into the topic of alternative seafood. Experts from Shiok Meats, Avant Meats, Hooked, and Hatch spoke about what the future holds for this industry.

Each year, up to 2.7 trillion fish are caught from the wild for human consumption.

Sandhya Sriram, CEO and Co-founder of Shiok Meats:

“Cell-based seafood is the future. I am not talking about the distant future, but the next three to five years! The seafood in the ocean is depleting at an alarming rate and with the tremendous growth in population, we need huge amounts of sustainable, nutritious, and delicious protein to feed us all in the coming years. Cell-based seafood is the answer to that. Shiok Meats and I are extremely happy to bring cell-based crustaceans soon to your tables.”

Emil Wasteson, Co-founder of Hooked Seafood: 

“Plant-based seafood is still a white-space in comparison to plant-based meat and dairy. However, with increasing awareness of the environmental and health issues within the seafood industry and multiple innovative startups emerging in this space, we believe this is about to change. The market is just waiting for the right brands and products that will unlock its full potential, just like Impossible Foods has achieved in the meat sector and Oatly in the dairy.

“It’s very exciting to be in a space where the technical advancements are progressing extremely quickly. In the next few years, we will witness tastier, cheaper, and more nutritious plant-based seafood options coming to market.”

Georg Baunach, Managing Partner and Co-founder of Hatch:

“I expect the alternative seafood market to become highly competitive over the next years and to see real growth opportunities beyond the flexitarian consumer.

“For startups, the challenge will be for them to find their place among the ‘big guys’ with strong brands or a ‘hard’ defendable IP. I am most excited about the potential environmental benefits the adoption of alternative seafood can bring, but I am also cautious of unintended consequences.”

Fish maw from Avant Meats. Photo credit: Avant Meats

Carrie Chan, Co-Founder and CEO of Avant Meats:

“Each year, up to 2.7 trillion fish are caught from the wild. Meanwhile, 37-120 billion fish are killed on commercial farms. Aquaculture solves part of the supply problem, however, the number of species that can be commercially farmed is limited.

“The need for an alternative supply of seafood is imminent. Avant Meats is a cultivated meat biotechnology company. We offer patent-pending solutions that enable businesses to produce animal proteins without raising, catching, or slaughtering animals.

“The company’s pilot products are cultivated fish and marine proteins. Thanks to our technology, we customise the nutritional profile of our product while keeping them free from heavy metals, microplastics, radioactive contaminants, parasites, and antibiotics.”

Shrimp dumplings from Shiok Meats. Photo credit: Shiok Meats

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