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5 plant-based seafood companies making waves in 2022

Drowning in facts and anecdotes about plant-based seafood and the state of the industry?

Let us introduce you to some of the best plant-based seafood companies successfully navigating the turbulent waters of this novel and exciting category of alternative proteins.

Please note that at their core, all of these brands are considered “plant-based”, however, some of them use cultivation or fermentation technologies to further differentiate their products.

Since the category is still relatively new with less than one hundred seafood companies in existence, we have included brands that emulate seafood using plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation-based techniques to ensure you get a great insight into the alternative seafood currently on the market and in development.

Each of these brands has demonstrated significant growth, innovation, and higher productivity than their peers, providing inspiration to dive deeper into this nascent alt-protein category.

Here are 5 brands that are thriving in the alternative seafood space:

1. Blue Nalu

  • Headquarters: San Diego, United States
  • Founded: 2017
  • Founders: Chris Dammann, Christopher Somogyi, Lou Cooperhouse
  • Funding: $84.8M
  • Technology focus: Cultivation

BlueNalu is a cellular aquaculture company that aims to disrupt current industry practices with its great-tasting, healthy, sustainable, and safe seafood products.

BlueNalu’s yellowtail fish analog served with kimchi. Credit: BlueNalu. Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

The brand has made a series of technological discoveries including the development of a non-GMO, single-cell suspension line with high growth rates, downstream processes that eliminate the requirement of plant-based scaffolds, and an innovative lipid-loading technique that enables the creation of seafood with higher fat profiles and enhanced sensory qualities (e.g. bluefin tuna).

BlueNalu has predicted a 75% gross margin in its first year of production through a combination of these breakthrough technologies and strategic product focus. What’s more, the company’s value proposition has led to collaboration with numerous major multinational companies including Mitsubishi Corporation (Asia), Nomad Foods (Europe), and Griffith Foods (U.S.). These partnerships have enhanced BlueNalu’s global go-to-market strategies and accelerated research and funding.

2. Revo Foods

  • Headquarters: Vienna, Austria
  • Founded: 2020
  • Founders: Manuel Lachmayr, Robin Simsa, Theresa Rothenbücher
  • Funding: $4M
  • Technology focus: Plant-based

Revo Foods uses 3D printing technology to develop a range of nutritious and tasty seafood analogs.

Earlier this year, the plant-based fish company unveiled its first whole-cut analog during a tasting event in Vienna. The plant-based salmon filet was created using a blend of plant proteins, including pea and algae, and can be steamed, fried, and baked in the same way as conventional fish. Shortly after the big reveal, the plant-based seafood company secured a €2.3 million grant from the Austrian Research Promotion Agency.

In addition to its 3D printing technology, Revo Foods creates individual fiber strands using its novel fiber dispension technology to emulate the bite and mouthfeel of conventional tuna and other popular fish products. These products also deliver high protein and high omega-3 fatty acid content due to the inclusion of microalgal oils.

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3. Aqua Cultured Foods

  • Headquarters: Chicago, United States
  • Founded: 2020
  • Founders: Anne Palermo, Brittany Chibe
  • Funding: $2.3M
  • Technology focus: Fermentation

The first vegan seafood brand to develop whole-muscle cut plant-based seafood alternatives created through microbial fermentation, Aqua Cultured Foods is rapidly propelling itself to the top of the industry.

The company’s novel biomass fermentation technology creates large amounts of complete protein by using microbial biomass as a food ingredient. Unlike cultivated seafood, the products are completely animal-free and do not require any genetic modification, so they can be marketed as non-GMO.

Boasting impressive nutrition profiles, Aqua Cultured Foods’ products contain comparable protein and omega-3 fatty acids to conventional fish and seafood while also delivering on fiber, an essential macronutrient for a healthy gut.

Whole-cut analogs, such as salmon filets, can be more challenging to emulate

Whereas many of the plant-based seafood companies currently focus on chunks, fish cakes, or flaked products, Aqua Cultured Foods is exploring an opportunity in the market by developing whole-cut analogs such as calamari, scallops, shrimp, and tuna and whitefish filets. To reduce food waste, the brand also uses off-cuts and imperfect filets for the minced filling it stuffs inside its dumpling products.

4. CellMEAT

  • Headquarters: Gwangju, South Korea
  • Founded: 2019
  • Founder: Giljun Park
  • Funding: $12.8M
  • Technology focus: Cultivation

After announcing their intentions to promote alternative proteins in the country’s 2022 national plan, the South Korean government selected CellMEAT to participate in a research team for the future food technology development project. It comes as no surprise that the first company to cultivate Dokdo shrimp, a regional premium delicacy, was chosen to lead the way towards more sustainable protein production.

But despite the company’s success, South Korea is yet to approve a definition for cultivated meat, which has led CellMEAT to adapt to using Singapore as their initial market until regulations and production standards can be implemented in Korea.

CellMEAT is the third company in the world to create a cell culture medium free from FBS (fetal bovine serum), which it uses to cultivate its shrimp products. Proprietary tissue engineering and scaffolding technology are used to emulate authentic seafood shapes and textures.

The cultivated seafood company’s triumph in growing shrimp has enabled it to research other seafood prototyping, including lobster, king crab, and other expensive varieties that are difficult to farm.

Expensive and difficult to farm seafood prototypes, such as lobster and king crab, offer exciting opportunities for plant-based seafood companies

5. Jack & Bry

  • Headquarters: London, England
  • Founded: 2019
  • Founders: Bryony Tinn-Disbury, Jennifer Pardoe
  • Funding: $2.9M
  • Technology focus: Plant-based

While many plant-based fish companies create their own ingredients using cultivation or fermentation techniques, Jack & Bry chose to use an already readily available food source: jackfruit.

Big, bumpy, and smelly, with a gooey interior, jackfruit is heralded as a sustainable replacement for staple crops affected by climate change. The inelegant fruit is harvested from a drought-resistant tree that does not require irrigation, pesticides, or herbicides, and it can be grown as part of a regenerative crop system.

After the success of its jackfruit-based meat products, Jack & Bry collaborated with The Cornish Seaweed Company to develop the world’s first non-battered jackfruit fish filet. Unlike many cultivated and fermented examples, this plant-based product has already made it to market; both Lewis Hamilton’s Neat Burger chain and the Harbour Lights restaurant in Cornwall, UK have featured the fishless filets on their menus.

Achieve your own success

The above 5 plant-based seafood companies have demonstrated just how achievable success is in a relatively young and experimental industry. Nevertheless, the turbulent waters of plant-based seafood alternatives can be difficult to navigate and much remains to be explored.

To discover how to swim not sink, reach out to us at Bright Green Partners, the leading alternative protein consultancy. Our consulting team can help you gain deep insights into the plant-based seafood industry, strategize your go-to-market plan, and secure significant market share.

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