Plant-Based Makes Its Pitch
Meanwhile, in the plant-based seafood segment, innovation continues apace. In center store, for instance, Mind Blown has recently launched Plant Based Shelf Stable Sea Scallops on the brand’s website.
“They are a true game-changer in the world of sustainable seafood,” says Shelly Van Cleve, co-founder and VP of innovations at Grimstead, Va.-based Mind Blown. “Not only do these scallops boast an authentic taste and texture that rivals that of their ocean counterparts, but they also offer significant benefits to the planet. By eliminating the need for refrigeration and reducing reliance on the cold chain, these scallops have a dramatically reduced carbon footprint. Furthermore, they alleviate the pressure on declining marine populations and reduce food waste.”
The brand doubles down on its dedication to sustainability by donating a portion of its profits to The Coral Restoration Foundation, based in Tavernier, Fla., in support of its work to rebuild coral reefs around the world. “By choosing Mind Blown products, you’re not only making a healthier choice for yourself, but you’re also contributing to the revitalization of our oceans,” asserts Van Cleve. “Our ultimate goal is to relieve, restore and revive the health of our oceans, leaving behind a legacy of abundance for future generations to enjoy.”
Another compelling argument in favor of plant-based seafood alternatives, according to Van Cleve, “is the high cost of traditional seafood. For instance, a pound of locally sourced crab meat averages a staggering $50, while scallops can cost around $35 per pound. If the prices of chicken or hamburger meat were that high, it would be difficult for many communities to access them. Therefore, the goal should be to provide affordable options that are accessible to all.”
She predicts the likelihood “that we’ll soon see our favorite seafood dishes transformed into plant-based alternatives. In the near future, [plant-based] crab cake sandwiches, fries and coleslaw baskets may be a ubiquitous sight on menus at seafood restaurants, food trucks, seaside cafés and even stadiums. The trend towards plant-based offerings is rapidly gaining momentum, and it’s clear that it will soon become a standard feature of the culinary landscape.”
The ISH Company, which is currently in talks with large retailers, with the aim of launching in grocery stores in 2024, agrees that a declining seafood supply, sustainability considerations and physical health are key reasons for consumers to switch to plant-based options.
As for who’s most interested in such products, Christie Fleming, COO and president of ISH, observes that currently, “many Gen Zers and Millennials are turning to plant-based options for health, environmental or personal reasons. According to the National Institutes of Health, 85.2% of college students are willing to try more plant-based meat. While some universities offer Beyond or Impossible products, plant-based seafood is less available for those that want to try it.”
Fleming additionally highlights the fact that “[m]any consumers are also adopting a flexitarian lifestyle to limit meat intake and eat more plants. … Research from Sprouts Farmers Market found that 47% of Americans describe themselves as flexitarians, the identification proving even more popular in younger crowds. As this population moves more toward plant-based substitutes, the demand for plant-based seafood is rising.”
ISH’s products, which are currently available at foodservice, include Shrimpish, Salmonish, Codish, Crabish and Lobsterish.