Plant-based proteins dive into fish
Future. Plant-based fish products aren’t quite swimming off shelves yet, but the market is heating up on the heels of faux-beef and chicken popularity. Right now, environmental concerns are mostly driving fake-fish adoption… but rising health concerns may make faux fish a welcome alternative when needed.
First it was burgers and chicken, but now the faux-meat market is looking at seafood as the next frontier in changing eating habits.
- Spanish startup Mimic Seafood rolled out an alternative sushi product called Tunato — a dehydrated tomato seasoned with olive oil, algae extract, spices, and soy sauce that allegedly tastes and feels like tuna sashimi.
- New Wave Foods, which received investment from Tyson Foods, has a plant-based shrimp, while Chicken of the Sea-parent Thai Union Group PCL introduced plant-based crab cakes and fish burgers.
- Even brands that you wouldn’t associate with seafood, such as Nestle and Ikea, have alternative products for tuna and caviar.
- Fast food chain Long John Silver’s sells faux fried fish fillets and crab cakes made by Good Catch.
The faux-seafood market is nowhere near the heights of the plant-based meat one, but it did grow 23% to $12 million in 2020… and has hit $70 million in the first half of 2021.
What’s fueling the plant-based seafood industry is renewed focus on the sustainability of the ocean, metal and micro-plastic problems associated with offshore waste, and concerns about overfishing. Like fake meats, fake-fish consumption is being driven by Gen-Z and Millennials, who are increasingly adopting vegan or flexitarian (mostly plants, but a little meat when wanted) diets.
Additionally, fake-fish is a welcome alternative for people with shellfish allergies or women who are pregnant.
Of course, there are still several hurdles for fake fish to overcome, including the fact that it’s actually quite hard to make a fragile delicacy like fish from other ingredients and that fish, unlike meat or chicken, is already viewed as a healthy choice because of its abundance of vitamins and minerals.