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Schouten, the Dutch company that has been specialising in developing plant-based proteins since the 1990s, has recently debuted its latest product: vegan tuna. It marks the first time the firm has entered the plant-based seafood alternatives space, which is expected to undergo major growth as more companies tap into fish-free innovation.
Schouten has recently launched TuNo, its new vegan-friendly tuna alternative, marking its first foray into the plant-based seafood sector. Made from wheat and soy protein, sunflower oil and natural flavourings, the 100% plant-based tuna contains 17 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, and is slated to land on Dutch retail shelves in February this year.
The Dutch plant-based protein company, who has been developing meatless substitutes since the 1990s, says that its TuNo product can be applied in a range of products for its B2B partners, such as salads, wraps, pizza toppings and ready meals. Schouten’s range is primarily sold to supermarket and foodservice brands across the Netherlands and other European markets.
All tuna species are heavily overfished and a large number of species are threatened with extinction. Our vegetable tuna has the same bite and taste as real tuna.Annemiek Vervoort, Product Manager, Schouten
Speaking to Food Ingredients First, Schouten’s product manager Annemiek Vervoort said that the company decided to launch its new tuna alternative to help alleviate the strain on endangered seafood species, especially tuna, which is highly consumed across Europe.
“All tuna species are heavily overfished and a large number of species are threatened with extinction. Our vegetable tuna has the same bite and taste as real tuna,” explained Vervoort.
“The product is suitable for eating cold and is therefore immediately ready to eat for anyone who wants to enjoy the taste of tuna in an environmentally sustainable way.”
While the plant-based alternative meat sector continues to dominate the wider plant-based protein industry, the vegan seafood category is expected to see a boom, given the coronavirus-driven rise in demand for all animal-free foods.
We see that the demand for fish substitutes is increasing.Annemiek Vervoort, Product Manager, Schouten
Trend data also suggests that mainstream consumers that haven’t yet made a full meatless switch are displacing red meat for fish, which represents a huge opportunity for food companies to innovate plant-based substitutes.
“We see that the demand for fish substitutes is increasing,” Vervoort commented in the interview.
Already in the competition are a number of brands, such as U.S. plant-based tuna maker Good Catch Foods who recently opened up a new 42,500 square foot facility in response to surging sales and Swedish startup Hooked whose vegan “toona” is set to launch across Stockholm.
Food giant Nestlé is also in the running, entering into the seafood alternative market last year with a plant-based tuna product launched under its Europe-facing Garden Gourmet brand.
Though yet to land on the market, cell-based fish products are also being watched by investors, with food tech BlueNalu having just closed US$60 million in convertible note financing, in what is the largest funding round to date for the global cultivated seafood industry.
All images courtesy of Schouten.