It’s seafood, but that doesn’t involve fishnets or the sea, with plant-based fish fillet burgers, smoked salmon, and shrimp the next big thing in alternative proteins.
Dubbed fake fish, a slew of new products are on sale as new manufacturing techniques produce lifelike shrimp from peas and flaky fish fillets from jackfruit.
Analysts describe the alternative seafood scene as “hot” as companies boosted by booming sales of plant-based milks and meat substitutes invest in the region. The focus on alternatives to fish has also increased due to increased consumer concern over overfishing, which was spurred by Netflix’s popular Seaspiracy documentary.
Tesco, who works with American chef and self-proclaimed “plant pusher” Derek Sarno, is set to expand its plant-based range with a handful of new products, including Thai-style fish cakes and crab cakes. New England.
The Dutch brand Vegan Zeastar launched the challenge with its ambition to “vegetate every dish that involves fish to fight against the destruction of our oceans”. Its latest product is the smoked “Zalmon”, made from tapioca starch, which looks suspiciously like the real thing and is expected to go on sale early next year. Its Shrimpz and Kalamariz are stored online in particular by Ocado.
This month’s launch of Vrimp by Nestlé highlighted that the food industry takes the region seriously. Made from seaweed and peas, they promise the “authentic texture and flavor of succulent shrimp”, with the lookalike created using special molds with a fine seam on the body the only gift.
Nestlé, the world’s largest food group, has 300 people working on plant-based foods. Mark Schneider, its chief executive, said there had been a “significant shift” towards plant-based diets in all age groups.
“It’s not just a one-season fad,” said Schneider. “It’s something that has very strong long-term growth rates.” He said people are interested in plant-based foods for different reasons. “With fish it’s more related to health, and with beef and chicken it’s more about the environment,” he said.
For Britons trying to reduce their environmental footprint, eating plant-based foods becomes more palatable because alternatives to meat and dairy products are so good today, according to Schneider. Ahead of the Cop26 climate summit, he said consumer behavior was “a big part of the equation” because making choices that reduce their carbon footprint was “easier than trying to eliminate carbon. existing products that we consume “.
To date, much more time and money has been spent creating plant-based burgers and nuggets, as the markets are much larger for beef and chicken. Another factor is that restaurants account for a substantial share of fish and seafood sales. When dining out, taste and experience were more important, which made it more difficult to equal alternatives, said Thijs Geijer, Senior Economist at ING.
Geijer said the wide variety of taste and texture in fish compels companies to ‘invent the wheel’ for a wide range of products, some of them – mostly startups – focused on tuna, which is sold on a large scale. quantity in supermarkets. Nonetheless, the category was “hot,” he said.
Sarno, who co-founded Wicked Kitchen and Good Catch and now leads plant-based innovation at Tesco, believes alternative seafood can be as good as the real thing. Many seafood were mixed, coated and baked or fried and were “easily made plant-based without compromise,” he said. Tesco’s newly stocked products, which include Quorn fish-free sticks and a fish burger, are said to be very expensive, he said, and therefore offer customers “easy swaps.”
On Friday and Saturday, the first Plant Based World Europe fair was held in London. It was the first commercial event of its kind in Europe and more than 100 companies participated. Jennifer Pardoe, board member and co-founder of Jack & Bry, which developed the fish burgers sold in the Neat Burger chain backed by Lewis Hamilton, said fish is an exciting area because consumption is not sustainable, with the problem presented to young people this year by Seaspiracy.
For fake fish to really take off, Pardoe said it needs to be on menus at top fast food chains and restaurants so consumers can try it first, paving the way for sales in supermarkets. The taste would win out, she said. “You have to make sure that the flavor of the fish tastes genuine, if there are wrong notes, or if it tastes wrong, people will call it out.”
Fake fish of the day
Vrimp – a plant-based version of prawns (or prawns depending on where you live) is Nestlé’s latest top offering. Made from seaweed, peas and konjac root and shaped using specialized molds, it is first tested in its native Switzerland.
Filet-without-fish – British brand Jack & Bry created the £ 8 fishless fillet burger sold in the vegan chain backed by Lewis Hamilton Pure burger. It mimics the taste of cod but is made from jackfruit marinated in seaweed.
Vuna – Tuna is another member of the UK’s top five most consumed. Nestlé launched Vuna, made from pea and wheat proteins last year, but it is not yet marketed in the UK. You can buy “tuna-style flakes” at Good Catch, and canned tuna made by the unMEAT brand is coming as well.
Smoked Zalmon – Dutch brand Vegan Zeastar is set to add smoked Zalmon to a range that already includes Shrimpz, Kalamariz and Codd. This realistic take on the premium treat is made with tapioca starch, flaxseed and rapeseed oil and “lots of herbal love”.