Whole Foods to Serve Plant-Based Tuna Alternative

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Whole Foods to Serve Plant-Based Tuna Alternative

By Randy Hofbauer - 09/21/2017

Whole Foods Market has added the first-ever plant-based alternative to raw tuna in select sushi venues in Los Angeles and New York.

Created by New York-based Ocean Hugger Foods, Ahimi is made from tomatoes and savory, umami-rich ingredients to replicate the taste and texture of ahi tuna. It is free from mercury, PCBs and other toxic chemicals, while also vegan, and safe for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and people with compromised immune systems.

“Tomatoes contain high levels of naturally occurring glutamic acids, which are responsible for the savory flavor of meaty foods,” Ocean Hugger said on its website. “Certified Master Chef James Corwell's proprietary method combines tomatoes with simple, natural ingredients to enhance the natural savory quality of the tomato, making Ahimi a natural seafood experience.”

Added Andy Sasser, global category manager at Whole Foods: “A tasty vegan option for raw tuna is at the intersection of a few major trends, including the growing popularity of sushi, as well as the surge in plant-based diets and dishes. We love when we can bring shoppers something delicious that’s never been done before, and Ahimi does just that.”

Ahimi will be available at select in-store sushi venues in Los Angeles and New York beginning Nov. 1. Shoppers can try it in two sushi dishes – the Ahimi Nigiri and Roll Combo, and Ahimi California Roll. Currently, the fish alternative can be purchased at all Fresh&Co locations in New York.

This marks the second announcement Whole Foods has made in the past month regarding efforts to bring unique plant-based alternatives to its shopper base. In late August, a Whole Foods store in Seattle added a plant-based-burger joint, the second of its kind for the grocer. The Next Level Burger shop offers a menu of plant-based twists on classic burger-joint favorites, including more than a dozen burger combinations, and next-level hot dogs and sandwiches, as well as fries and tots.

Plant-based foods right now are growing in popularity among U.S. consumers: Today, 120 million of them eat meatless meals, and nearly four in 10 enjoy a meat-free day at least once a week, according to research from global knowledge solutions company Innova Market Insights.