Tuna Is the Next Food to Get the Plant-Based Alternative Treatment
Two companies have introduced their fish-free takes on the once-popular household staple.
Most of us are already familiar with plant-based alternatives to meat, with products including the Beyond Burger and Sausage and the Impossible Burger. Efforts are also underway to bring lab-grown meat (also known as "clean meat") to the market.
But people who wanted a replacement for seafood have had limited options. That's changing.
Good Catch, a maker of a tuna alternative made from beans, legumes and algae and sold in pouches, will be available nationwide tomorrow at Whole Foods and Thrive Market. The company has been working on the product for two-and-a-half years, with one year dedicated to capturing canned tuna's texture.
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"Roughly 40 percent of the world's population relies on seafood as their main source of protein -- and while there are a lot of plant-based protein alternatives in the meat and poultry categories, seafood is virtually untouched," said Chris Kerr, co-founder and CEO of Good Catch. "We see a big opportunity to offer a plant-based alternative that tastes great, without supporting the inherent problems of the seafood industry, including mercury, PCBs and microplastic health hazards, horrendous sea-life suffering and overfishing."
Overfishing is so bad that in some regions of the world, such as around the Philippines, tuna production is on the verge of collapse. Meanwhile, canned tuna consumption has been on a downturn, dropping 42 percent in the three decades through 2016. (Tuna company executives blame millennials, who apparently don't own can openers.) Sales of plant-based meats, according to an industry estimate, grew 24 percent from 2017 to 2018, topping $670 million in sales. It's safe to assume there's room in the market, and people's pantries, for plant-based seafood alternatives.
Good Catch wasn't first to market. Atlantic Natural Foods, founded in 2008, introduced a plant-based tuna product last October. Tuno is made from soy flour, and is sold in the familiar can as well as pouches.
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"Oceans have reached their maximum sustainable yield and supply will be more constricted in order to save our planet," said J. Douglas Hines, found and chairman of ANF. "Our mission has always been to provide an affordable, sustainable and healthy source of protein that fits all consumer lifestyles and taste preferences around the globe."
I had the chance last year to try Good Catch, prepared in multiple ways by the chefs behind the product. It retains the smooth texture of canned tuna along with its taste. But the best part: it doesn't smell fishy.