Investors are bullish on the potential of plant-based fish, with alternative seafood companies raising US$175 million in 2021 – nearly double the amount raised in 2020.
In total, more than 120 companies are now developing alternative seafood products around the world, including many in East and Southeast Asia. For example, Singapore-based Growthwell, which is backed by Temasek and other investors, recently outlined plans to export their alternative proteins, including seafood products made of konjac, to China and the UK.
As the old adage goes, “the customer is always right”. When it comes to alternative seafood, customers want products that can match or exceed the taste, texture, nutritional value and affordability of the conventional seafood they know and love.
These are not unreasonable requests, but satisfying them will require substantially more investment from public and private stakeholders into open-access research and development. These funds should go towards improving the quality, variety and cost of plant-based seafood products beyond what’s currently available.
For the sake of securing Asia’s increasingly fraught food supply and preserving the richness of our oceans amid a world of surging protein demand, we should all hope that alternative seafood producers can live up to consumers’ high expectations.
Ryan Huling is the senior communications manager of alternative protein think tank Good Food Institute APAC.