KANSAS CITY – Entrepreneurs and product developers are seeking to disrupt the market for plant-based seafood. During the past few years, the number of entrants in the category have grown significantly.
In October 2021 Above Food Corp., Regina, Sask., entered into an agreement to acquire Atlantic Natural Foods, Nashville, NC. A key attraction of the acquisition was Atlantic Natural’s position in the plant-based seafood category. Above Foods is a vertically integrated business that produces oats, chickpeas, lentils and fava beans, and has businesses that produce plant-based finished products.
“No one has taken the crown in (plant-based) seafood,” said Lionel Kambeitz, chief executive officer of Above Foods in an interview in October. “We have the whole supply chain — the chickpeas and fava beans — to make seafood analogs.”
He added that two issues are driving consumer interest in plant-based seafood.
“The first is unit economics,” Mr. Kambeitz said. “The cost of catching fish, growing fish domestically, is such that the unit economics on all plant-based seafood will be better.
“The second thing is there is a lot of focus on how our oceans are being depleted; how coral reefs are dying and there is too much plastic waste in the ocean. There is a lot of talk about environmental damage to the ocean. That helps the case for plant-based seafood.”
The company plans to capitalize on the scale of Atlantic Natural’s Tuno brand, which includes varieties of plant-based tuna, and use it to introduce a new brand called New Oceans.
“New Oceans will allow us to be more expansive on use occasions,” Mr. Williams said. “We’ll be bringing both fresh and frozen center plate products to market through New Oceans and Tuno will become a sub brand.”
The current schedule is for the New Oceans market launch to happen in early 2022.