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California’s Finless Foods, one of the early players in the cultivated seafood space, is ready to debut its plant-based tuna analogue nationwide across the United States. Its pokè style product, which the company claims i minimally processed, low in sodium and fat and contains omega-3 fatty acids, will be unveiled at the national restaurant Association show next week in Chicago.
The vegan-friendly tuna is made using nine plant-based ingredients and has been developed in partnership with chefs to effectively replicate the look, feel and functionality of sushi-grade raw fish.
Tuna, without any catches
Finless describes its tuna as a product designed for consumers who enjoy the taste but also care about the oceans and their health.
“The newest revolution in the plant-based market is here and it’s pokè-style plant-based tuna by Finless Foods,” Michael Selden, co-founder and CEO of Finless Foods said in a statement. “Attending NRA with our sales partners, Elohi Strategic Advisors (ESA), will provide us brand exposure to thousands of chefs, restaurateurs, and foodservice operators who now have the opportunity to purchase our inaugural product. We know through previous experience, the best way to introduce Finless to the market is by letting the greatness of our product and mission speak for itself.”
A compassionate alternative to tuna
Tuna has been selected as a focus due to the impact it will make on global fish stocks, if it can be replaced. The International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) recently reported that tuna caught from healthy stocks has fallen sharply in the last six months. Figures are said to be 80.5 percent in March this year, down from 87. 7 percent in September 2021.
Further in its report, the ISSF states that 9.2 percent of total tuna catches came from overfished stocks and 10.3 percent came from those with only intermediate availability.
Overall, tuna stocks have been depleted by up to 60 percent, when compared with numbers 50 years ago. Sustainable fishing practices are limited with tuna, resulting in cultivated and plant-based alternatives presenting a viable opportunity.
Funding the future of alternative seafood
In early March, Finless confirmed it has reeled in a $34 million Series B funding round, bringing total funding to $48 million in line with trend predictions around the alternative seafood sector.
The Good Food Institute alternative seafood report revealed that in 2021, 120 companies were meaningfully engaged in alternative seafood development. Combined, they raised $175 million, an increase of 92 percent in 2020. The market is set to get increasingly competitive and Finless is already going to come up against fellow plant-based tuna innovators.
Diving into the tuna race
California’s Impact Food completed a soft launch of its plant-based tuna analogue, in February. The startup used a biochemical approach to recreating raw tuna that is akin to sushi-grade fish meat and flakes authentically. It stated that the near-extinction of Bluefin tuna was a driving motivation for its R&D. The company still wants to improve the protein levels of its product, but the process is ongoing.
Also gunning for tuna success is Current Foods. Formerly Kuleana, the San Francisco startup made its plant-based sushi-grade tuna and salmon available via an online shop. Current is known for recreating tuna’s taste and texture using unexpected ingredients including bamboo, algae and potato.
Chile’s NotCo is expected to enter the alternative seafood sector later this year. The unicorn company revealed it wants to recreate tuna using its proprietary AI tech, Giuseppe, earlier this year.
All photos by Finless Foods.