Dutch food business Schouten is releasing 100% plant-based, wheat-and-rice fish sticks this month in response to growing demand for fish substitutes as a result of Netflix’s eye-opening documentary Seaspiracy on the global fishing industry and its role in the declining state of the oceans.
“We have noticed that the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy has made a big impression on people and has contributed to a growing awareness of the importance of plant-based alternatives to fish,” said Schouten Product Manager Annemiek Vervoort said. “This will further increase the demand for fish substitutes.”
The fish sticks are the second fish replacement for the plant protein business after the introduction of its veganised tuna earlier this year.
While the demand for meat substitutes has grown exponentially, fish and seafood substitutes represent a small portion of the overall sales as consumers see less urgency in replacing fish and seafood with vegan versions as many identify as pescatarian and eat fish and seafood as the only sources of animal protein in their diet. Schouten anticipates that the demand for fish substitutes will grow as more people look to ditch fish and seafood for social and environmental reasons.
“We see the demand for meat substitutes continuing to rise,” said Vervoort. “The fish substitutes will benefit from this, also because both product groups are currently often offered in the same plant-based section”.
The environmental documentary Seaspiracy premiered on Netflix in March and sparked a worldwide conversation about the destructive impacts of the the multi-billion-dollar commercial fishing industry. Produced by Kip Anderson (filmmaker behind Cowspiracy and What the Health) Seaspiracy exposes issues such as overfishing and its impacts on marine ecosystems and fisherfolk livelihoods, sustainability certification greenwashing, forced labor and pollution.
While the fish replacement and seafood alternatives market has seen slower growth than other forms of alternative protein, there are a few companies looking to meet rising demand.
Singapore’s Shiok Meats is also developing cell-based crustacean products aiming to become the first company to bring cell-based seafood to market. Last month, Planteneers announced its development of FiildTex and fiildFish, vegan alternatives to tuna and salmon sushi fillets. Last year San Diego-based BlueNalu completed a $20m fundraising round to accelerate development of cell-based ‘catch-free’ fish. Even Swiss food and drink multinational Nestlé has launched its own plant-based tuna alternative ‘Vuna’ looking for a bigger slice of the growing fish and seafood alternatives market.
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Cover image via Schouten Food.