Currently 60% of the fish Love The Wild uses in its ready-to-prepare seafood kits that go from the freezer to the plate in 30 minutes, come from farms and 40% come from the wild, but with funds and guidance from Aqua-Spark, the young company wants to transition to 100% farmed fish.
But not just any farmed fish will do. It wants to source fish from only sustainable farms that do not harm the environment or use antibiotics and chemicals. These restrictions should lead to healthy fish that can help make consumers healthier, according to the company.
“We are not anti-wild fish; we are just very pro-aquaculture,” the company’s co-founder and CEO Jacqueline Claudia told FoodNavigator-USA.
An ongoing shift in aquaculture
Being pro-aquaculture might sound strange given the industry’s bad rap, which Claudia acknowledges, but she says the industry is changing for the better.
“Let’s be real, farmed fish have earned their bad reputation. However, a lot has changed in the last 10 years. Today’s best aquaculture operators know that happy, healthy fish are the best investment. Sick fish cost money to treat, cost more to feed because of slow growth, have a higher mortality rate and result in a bad quality product,” she said. But, she added, “Today’s fish farms make enormous investments in water quality infrastructure, vaccines and probiotics to help build natural immunity, and farming practices designed to produce healthy fish.”
The result is “extremely high quality, toxin-free and traceable fish, with minimal impact on the environment,” which is important as Americans begin to eat more fish for its health benefits than can be responsibly be caught in the wild, Claudia said.
The business case for aquaculture fish
The transition to aquaculture doesn’t just make environmental sense, it makes good business sense, too, Claudia notes.
For example, she lauds aquaculture for it sustainability, consistency and efficiency in terms of resource and investment.
“Acquaculture gives Love The Wild the unparalleled ability to provide customers the sustainability and traceability they desire in seafood,” she said. “It doesn’t get more traceable than knowing the fish’s lineage, how it was raised, and exactly what it ate for its entire life. Compare that to most traceable wild fish, where we can only know where it was caught and nothing before then.”
In addition, she notes, “from a manufacturing perspective, aquaculture is fantastic. It’s completely consistent, from supply to quality to price.”
She adds that she is looking forward to partnering with the best farms – something that Love The Wild will rely in part on Aqua-Spark to help it identify. The company says the investor will help it strengthen its criteria and systems for selecting and monitoring farms.
Aqua-Spark’s investment also will help Love The Wild expand distribution, hire key positions and develop new products, Claudia said.
Currently, Love The Wild is distributed in 600 stores and plans to reach 6,000 stores in the next five years, according to the company.