Major growth is coming to the plant-based seafood industry as companies find willing investors for the meatless food products that continue to rise in popularity.
One of the most significant indicators of this trend is the record-breaking investment of alternative seafood during the first half of 2021. According to the most recent State of the Industry report from the Good Food Institute, 2021 investments in the industry totaled $116 million — that’s more than the industry’s total funding in 2020 of $84.25 million.
“Branded manufacturers and foodservice distributors see the potential in these companies to generate new revenue streams with the added advantage of more reliable, sustainable, and safe inputs,” Maya Benami, PhD microbiologist and alternative protein consultant told The Food Institute.
There’s abundant evidence for that potential. The most recent analysis fromFuture Market Insights predicted that the global plant-based fish market would grow by a 28% CAGR over the next 10 years.
In Europe, “a significant shift towards plant-based eating is taking place across the continent,” according to a recent pan-European study by ProVeg International in partnership with Innova Market Insights, the University of Copenhagen, and Ghent University.
“The survey suggests tremendous potential for plant-based foods in Europe and gives a green light to all relevant players in the field to develop more and better products,” said Jasmijn de Boo, Vice President of ProVeg International. “Consumer demand for alternative proteins is growing at a remarkable rate, with no end in sight.”
A Time for Innovation
Also in 2021, many food companies focused on innovation announced new plant-based seafood food products. In aggregate, these new products paint a picture of radical transformation in how consumers eat and what food products they’re willing to buy.
For example, when food tech company Kuleana released its plant-based tuna product this year, Time rated it one of the best inventions of 2021 and a significant culinary achievement.
The Plant Based Seafood Co. just made a December announcement that it has created the world’s first plant-based oyster po’boy. The launch included an event in New Orleans with a guest appearance by former Top Chef contestant and celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn.
The leaders of these companies often talk about sustainability and positive change as drivers of the research and development.
Food Companies Make Crucial Acquisitions
Many food companies are positioning themselves to take full advantage of the expected growth of plant-based seafood by forming crucial partnerships that will result in improved access to ingredients and state-of-the-art food technology.
For example, one of Spain’s largest agricultural co-ops, La Palma, participated in the pre-seed round for Mimic Seafood, which will now be able to benefit from a reliable supply of local ingredients.
Good Catch Seafood, a subsidiary of Gathered Foods, has been a leader in developing plant-based seafood products and selling them through major players in the food industry, including Whole Foods Market. In July 2021,Good Catch entered into a partnership with Long John Silver’s, the biggest seafood chain in the U.S., which offered Good Catch’s Plant-Based Bread Fish-Free Fillet and the Plant-Based Breaded Crab-Free Cake.
In Canada, Above Food Corp. has positioned itself as a key player of this nascent food trend. Founded just two years ago, Above Food has already made several acquisitions in 2021 of important suppliers and ingredient companies in Canada.
Then it entered into a binding transaction agreement with U.S.-based Atlantic Natural Foods, adding a company already known for its plant-based seafood to Above Food’s growing portfolio of products.
“Partnering with Atlantic Natural Foods moves the company [Above Food] farther forward in the United States than any of its previous business moves,” FoodDive wrote.
Plant-Based Seafood for Sustainability
Above Food and Atlantic are hardly the only names in this growing industry.
But like many other companies aimed at plant-based seafood, their leaders clearly believe that their partnership will not only succeed financially, but make the world a better place as well.
“If we think about what alt-seafood is doing, it is indeed creating a new ocean, to give our existing oceans the much-needed rest they deserve,”said Martin Williams, president and chief innovation officer of Above Food. “This new ocean is the wide expanse of the northern plains of the U.S.A. and the southern prairies of Canada. The new fishing fleets are farmers harvesting plant-based seafood in the form of lentils, chickpeas, peas, and fava beans, which are indeed the new ‘catch.’”