Plant-Based Seafood: A Good Catch

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While the media frequently fawns over vegan meat alternatives, Good Catch Foods is rapidly expanding the market for plant-based seafood products. Good Catch’s protein platform is anchored by frozen entrees and appetizers and has successfully spawned an array of maritime-inspired consumables. The potential for Good Catch to introduce new seafood-themed foods to the market is enormous: The oceans contain between 200 and 300 species suitable for food, compared with around 15 species of land animals.

Established in 2017 with an $8.7 million Series A raise, Good Catch spent the first year-and-a-half replicating the flaky texture of tuna. The company then shifted its focus to achieving the ideal nutritional profile and taste of its faux tuna. The differences between Good Catch’s fish-free tuna and the real thing is negligible to the discerning palate.

Demand for this new category of plant-based protein is very strong: Good Catch tuna pouches are available in 5,000 American and British stores.

In February of 2020, after completion of a $36 million Series B funding, which included 150-year old General Mills as well as Hollywood star power (Woody Harrelson, Paris Hilton, and Shailene Woodley), the Good Catch frozen line was introduced in July of 2020. New England Style crab cakes, Thai-style fish cakes and Classic fish burgers quickly found homes in the seafood departments of groceries along the Eastern seaboard with expansion nationwide through the Fall. Demand for Good Catch’s products may be an inadvertent beneficiary of Covid as fewer people are ordering fish in restaurants, where 85% of fresh seafood is usually consumed.

A blend of six legumes – peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava and navy beans – combined with natural spices and seaweed comprise the healthy recipe with farmed algal oil providing the seafood taste. Good Catch products contain algae-based Omega-3 fatty acids and contain protein levels “comparable to a can of albacore,” according to co-founder and Chief Culinary Officer Chad Sarno.

Texas-based Chef Sarno, an acclaimed cookbook author and co-founder of Wicked Healthy, an innovative online hub for culinary consulting and recipe inspiration, has launched restaurants across Europe and also served as Global R&D Chef for Whole Foods Market.

The Good Catch manufacturing plant is located in Ohio, and the company has also established a strong presence in the UK, where Mr. Sarno cited data that approximately 70% of Brits seek plant-based foods. Current U.S. data compare at close to 40%, proving that this industry has shifted from the health food aisle to the mainstream market. Meat production behemoths Tyson Foods in the U.S. and Maple Leaf Foods in Canada have devoted significant investment to “alternative proteins.” However, it should be noted that Good Catch requires less logistics and concentration of workers at its plant than is the case at slaughterhouses—important considerations in the Covid era.

“We’re disrupting the seafood category, not the ocean’s natural resources,” notes Mr. Sarno. The benefit of saving global oceans and waterways along with the overfishing of their inhabitants should be underscored. In the summer of 2020, 3.2 million fish in California were killed to prevent an outbreak of a bacterial infection that was threatening hatcheries. Increasing ocean temperatures impact marine species with the loss of breeding grounds. By offering plant-based food alternatives to sea life, Good Catch Foods hopes to help reverse the devastating trends of the fishing industry and do its part to preserve the world’s oceans.

David Liepman
July 29, 2020

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