New Wave Foods & The Future of Food

Historically, most plant-based companies offering vegan alternatives to animal foods have focused on land animals. But that is about to change with New Wave Foods. With their debut shrimp product, New Wave Foods is set to become a completely new kind of seafood company.

What’s Wrong the Seafood Industry?

In a recent study by seafood watchdog Oceana, out of 25,000 seafood products tested, 20 percent were mislabeled. The numbers were particularly egregious when it came to animals like blue-fin tuna, which were mis-labled a staggering 98% of the time.

Mislabeling is frustrating and betrays serious problems in the industry. But it’s not the worst part. Our seafood may not just be mislabeled – it might also be making us sick. The tremendous pollution caused by plastic waste isn’t just killing animals and scarring our oceans. It’s making its way into our food supply. Seafood eaters consume as much as 11,000 pieces of microplastic each year!

These are real issues that affect real consumers.

As I often say on this channel, I believe concerns for safety and affordability often have more of an impact on consumers than matters of ethics. And while this might seem disappointing, it is reality, and I prefer to dwell in the realm of reality than that of fiction. In order to compete, plant-based alternatives must be equal or superior to the products they hope to replace. And they have must compete on price in order to expand beyond a niche market.

Seafood is a big business, valued at over $140 billion USD worldwide. Approximately 1 trillion sea animals are used for food each year. One plant-based company – New Wave Foods – sees the global market for seafood as a tremendous opportunity for innovation and disruption in the $10 billion USD shrimp industry.

What does New Wave Foods make?

New Wave Foods’ first commercial product is shrimp. Their remarkable shrimp are made using the same algae that gives traditional shrimp its flavour and bright colour (they’re even working on a product that will change colour as it’s cooked, and according to recent reports, they’re also using lycopene from tomatoes).  New Wave creates their shrimp using algae extract and of course they’re naturally free from hormones, chemical contamination and cholesterol. They also avoid the issues of human trafficking and slavery that have plagued the traditional shrimp industry in recent years. 

New Wave Foods’ shrimp product is currently sitting at approximately the same price-point as traditional shrimp. Currently, it sounds like New Wave Foods’ shrimp is more expensive than a few cheaper alternatives, but I think prices will come down in response to economies of scale (they will be selling for $5-$7 for a 10 oz bag, according to the San Francisco Chronicle). They still have some challenges to work out. The SF Chronicle was excited about the shrimp, but the reviewer felt they had an overcooked texture, which is something that needs to addressed (from the review I’ve read, when breaded, it’s indistinguishable, but it may seem overcooked in dishes like paella). But ironically, on the plus side, it’s hard to actually overcook it, which I recall was a very delicate issue with traditional shrimp!

I’m very confident the texture can be perfected. If a product like the Impossible Burger is possible, I think the sky’s the limit! We should all be optimistic about the future of sustainable, vegan seafood.



What do you think? Join the conversation!

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