Plant-Based Seafood Brand Good Catch Debuts First Frozen Line
Good Catch is swimming into deeper waters this week with the launch of its first frozen plant-based seafood offerings, more than a year after the brand waded into retail with shelf-stable vegan tuna products.
Parent company Gathered Foods will introduce vegan New England-style crab cakes, Thai-style fish cakes and fish burgers at three East Coast supermarket chains today, with plans for a wider retail roll out later this year. The suggested retail price is $5.99 for a two-pack.
Good Catch’s chef-created products are all made with the same base protein, a proprietary mix of six different legumes, plant-based flavorings and DHA to provide omega-3 fatty acids.
The new line has been in the works for a while but, in addition to creating the recipes, production of the first frozen products required a new facility and more equipment, CEO and co-founder Chris Kerr said. The products are being produced at a facility in Heath, Ohio, near Columbus. About 30 employees work there now and the company plans to grow to about 80 in the coming months.
The brand sees plenty of growth potential in the fledgling category, as more consumers seek to replace at least some of the animal foods on their plates with plant-based alternatives.
Sales of plant-based meat soared last year, according to data from the Good Food Institute, as more brands launched products to compete with burgers from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, but seafood alternatives from brands including Good Catch, Ocean Hugger Foods and Sophie’s Kitchen made up just 1% of the category.
“There’s kind of nothing like this in retail yet, it’s a category breaker — a new kind of product,” Kerr said.
Reeling in investors, partners
Earlier this year, the company revealed it had raised $36.8 million in a funding round that included Greenleaf Foods, the parent of plant-based brands Lightlife and Field Roast, and 301 INC, a venture capital investment unit of General Mills. Since then, the company has announced distribution partnerships with Tesco and Bumble Bee Foods.
Good Catch has also attracted investments from high-profile fans including Woody Harrelson and Paris Hilton.
Kerr is one of five founders of the brand, a group that also includes brothers Chad and Derek Sarno, two vegan chefs who spent two years perfecting the first tuna products.
“Part of our philosophy is that the food has to be recognizable,” Kerr said. “We’re trying to solve a short-term need of ‘What am I going to have for lunch and is it going to be satisfying?’”
Like the initial shelf-stable tuna products, the new frozen line was designed to be familiar and user-friendly for omnivores, and each package will include a recipe for a sauce designed to complement the product inside.
Getting consumers on the hook
As with any other segment of the plant-based food category, finding a way to introduce consumers to the products is a key first step in sparking the demand that drives growth, a bigger challenge in current times.
In-store samplings, prepared food bars and trade shows like the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show and the inaugural Plant Based World Conference last year were key channels for introducing consumers, suppliers and food retailers to Good Catch’s first plant-based tuna products, Kerr said.
In the era of COVID-19, those channels have been cut off for the foreseeable future.
“It will continue to be a challenge,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking. We really like the immediate feedback we get, and the interest from investors comes from that feedback. It will be a challenge for us and others. Sampling’s a pretty big part of what we do and it’s obviously the funnest part of what we do.”
That said, like other plant-based brands, Good Catch has seen a spike in demand during the pandemic, Kerr said, and familiarity with the brand’s existing products could help drive demand for the new items.
Swimming in a small pond has been a benefit for Good Catch in some ways, starting with the fact that it hasn’t yet faced any supply chain glitches due to the pandemic, Kerr said.
And being early stage has been advantageous in another way — Good Catch hadn’t yet launched its planned foodservice arm, a project that’s now on hold amid restaurant uncertainty. Instead, the company will focus all its efforts on growing in retail channels for at least the next six months, he said.
Long-term, foodservice channels from restaurants to corporate cafeterias to campus dining halls hold plenty of potential as consumer demand for plant-based alternatives grow and chefs figure out the best ways to customize the products for their customers, he said.
“Foodservice plans could be one of the best ways of getting our products in front of people.”
Source : forbes