TORONTO — A Canadian startup has created a plant-based twist on the tinned fish trend. Seed to Surf is “reimagining the seafood experience” using whole vegetables such as enoki mushrooms and celery root, said co-founder Alexandra Bergquist, a longtime vegan who launched the business last year alongside two business partners.
“We noticed a huge gap in the market for plant-based products that celebrated themselves as vegetables, rather than trying to get as close as possible to the meat products they were trying to imitate,” Ms. Bergquist said. “We don’t want to imitate the product but reimagine a different way to enjoy it.”
Offerings include celery root whitefish made with smoked celeriac, which has a flaky texture, and mushroom snow crab made with enoki mushrooms, described by the company as “tender, salty and sweet.” The vegetables are soaked in sunflower oil and flavored with seaweeds like kelp, knob, and kombu.
“When prepared and preserved right — using fresh, high-quality ingredients — we discovered that whole vegetables offer an innovative, delicious and sustainable take on the premium tinned seafood,” Ms. Bergquist said.
The founders teamed with culinary experts and food scientists to develop fresh takes on deep-sea delicacies. The products are available online at seedtosurf.ca and in more than 100 shops across the United States and Canada.
“Initially we were focused on the Canadian market and on big-box grocers and retailers,” Ms. Bergquist said. “We’ve learned where the demand is and where our product best fits in, which is with the specialty grocers, vegan shops, wine bars and bodegas, primarily in the US marketplace. Faire Wholesale has been a key partner in distributing our products in the United States. Our best wholesale partnerships have been with small-scale retailers like Rainbow Tomatoes Garden, the shop with the largest selection of tinned fish in the world, and Besties Vegan Paradise, the ultimate LA-based vegan grocer, to name a few. Specialty grocery is where it’s at, and it definitely helps that tinned fish is having a moment right now.”
TikTok content creators are credited with sparking a recent canned seafood craze, as well as premium brands including Fishwife and Scout seen elevating the category. Sales of canned seafood rose 10% to $2.7 billion in the United States last year, per Euromonitor International. Household penetration of canned seafood was around 70% in 2022, down from 71.5% in 2021, but the number of units purchased per trip increased year over year, according to data from Numerator.“We have a ton of innovation in the works, and we continue to stay true to our roots: using whole foods that are not processed or refined, and continuing to celebrate the culinary excellence of vegetables,” Ms. Bergquist said. “We want to be a household name in vegan seafood. The limit does not exist in terms of the potential here.”
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