GLOBAL – The alternative seafood market has great unexploited potential which if tapped could provide new growth opportunities for food companies, according to a new report from the Good Food Institute. 

Despite the hype around alternative proteins, investors have not been as enthusiastic about seafood alternatives as they have been in beef and chicken. 

Plant-based seafood made up just 0.1% of all of the retail dollar sales of the seafood segment in 2020, according to SPINS statistics cited in the report. 

If plant-based seafood grows to make up 1.4% of the segment’s sales — which is plant-based meat’s current cut of retail meat market dollar sales — it could be worth US$221 million. 

While the alternative seafood segment is relatively tiny now, the Good Food Institute pointed out in its report that the potential is virtually endless.  

There is a vast diversity of ocean species and a plethora of taste profiles, meaning a lot of different food items that companies can replicate for consumers. 

GFI notes that progress is being made in growing the alternative seafood segment with funding pouring in to help these companies improve their products and expand their scale. 

In the first half of 2021 alone, a record-setting US$116 million has been invested in the space, according to Pitchbook data cited by the Good Food Institute. 

Netting the largest investments were Gathered Foods and BlueNalu, which received US$60 million in January. 

Players in the scene have also been securing partnerships to enhance their capacity to either produce or distribute alternative seafood products 

Finless Foods, which started as a cell-based seafood provider, is working on a plant-based tuna while BlueNalu recently announced a partnership with Nomad Foods to bring cell-based seafood to Europe. 

After raising US$26.35 million, Gathered Foods, which has a distribution and logistics partnership with Bumble Bee Foods, has also expanded the availability of its plant-based offerings.  

Consumers are also interested in knowing more about the space and having the opportunity to taste products.  

Nearly three in four consumers are interested in alternative seafood, according to a recent study from Kelton Global commissioned by the Good Food Institute.  

And, like many other kinds of animal food alternatives, the majority of those interested in seafood alternatives are omnivores who are on no specific diet, the study found. 

Most consumers are however interested in the taste and texture as well as the sustainability profile of the products before they are persuaded to try them out. 

Getting the messaging right on taste and texture as well as sustainability will therefore prove vital if players in this segment hope to attract as many seafood lovers as possible.  

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Business Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food and agro industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE