Natural Products Expo West
Konscious Food rolls out plant-based sushi, onigiri & poke bowls to tap into fast-growing market
In the US, retail sales of plant-based seafood are still relatively small at $13.9m in 2021 compared to traditional seafood sales, but it is growing fast at 14% year-over-year, according to SPINS data collected for the Plant Based Food Association and the Good Food Institute.
This growth is fueled in part by a significant uptick in interest by consumers, 81% of whom said they tried plant-based seafood in 2021 and 44% who reported liking or loving it, according to research by Givaudan. Additionally, according to ProVeg International, 82% of consumers say they want to see more plant-based seafood choices.
‘We really thought there was something missing in the marketplace’
Industry veteran Yves Potvin is happy to comply with the expansion into the US of his latest Canadian brand Konscious Foods.
“We really thought there was something missing in the marketplace. There really isn’t much available at this point in time on the plant-based seafood side. So, it is really critical that we offered something that was great tasting, and have that alternative for flexitarians out there who want to have something that’s going to be sustainable, good for the environment and good for them as well,” Susan Vann, chief operating officer at Konscious Foods, told FoodNavigator-USA at Natural Products Expo West.
She explained that through consumer research and beta-testing, the young company created a line of frozen plant-based sushi rolls, onigiri and poke bowls that can be ready in minutes by simply thawing for quickly heating in hot water or the microwave.
The recipes feature recognizable vegetables, including tomatoes, carrots and pea fiber, and an increasingly popular and versatile konjac plant, which are layered on top of colorful whole grains and legumes, including purple Jasberry rice and organic red quinoa, and accompanied by other familiar ingredients, such as cucumbers and avocados.
Konscious Foods is pursuing dual distribution at retail and through foodservice at colleges, universities and fast-casual establishes, where Vann says there is significant potential to reach people on-the-go who are looking for a healthy option.
Lessons learned from Gardein, Yves Veggie Cuisine
When creating Konscious Foods’ lineup, Vann said that she and Potvin drew upon their previous experiences creating successful plant-based lines, including Gardein and Yves Veggie Cuisine.
“The learnings that we’re taking in having a great product is you have to focus on that convenience, you’ve got to have that right texture” and taste, and be able to deliver on clean labels and nutritional profiles consumers want, Vann said.
Equally important is being able to meet consumer demand as it ramps up with a product that is consistent, which is why Vann said Konscious Foods built a state-of-the-art facility in Canada with machinery from around the world.
[Editor's note: Interested in learning more about where there is room for innovation in the plant-based meat segment? Tune into FoodNavigator-USA's free one-hour webinar Plant-based meat: Beyond the honeymoon -- available on demand.]