What’s particularly notable about gimme Seaweed’s rise into the plant-based category, explained Diego Norris, CMO, gimme Seaweed, is its partnerships with Korean farmers and the Korean National Federation of Fisheries to implement the production of sustainable, organic and non-GMO seaweed.
“We were the first company to offer USDA organic, non-GMO certified seaweed. It actually didn’t exist before then. One of the co-founders, Annie Chun, worked closely with the seaweed farmers in South Korea and the Korean government to create the standard – and that’s the standard that’s widely used to today across the industry.”
Seaweed is a regenerative crop requiring no fertilizer, pesticides, water or land while simultaneously absorbing carbon dioxide. Norris explained that the CO2 absorption makes a tremendous impact on the environment.
He detailed: “We use about 250 tons of dry seaweed a year. For every gram of dried seaweed, it takes 10 grams of wet seaweed to produce that one gram – so we actually use 2,500 tons of wet seaweed and that absorbs an excess of 4,250 tons of CO2 a year; so roughly 57 tons of CO2 per hectare per year of wet seafood production, which is equivalent to 2,500 plus roundtrip flights from New York to London every year."
Based on FMI – The Food Industry Association’s Power of Plant-Based Foods and Beverages report, 27% of plant-based consumers look for claims referencing ethical practices, highlighting the need for plant-based brands to develop sustainable initiatives and certifications.
Simplifying packaging and diversifying distribution
Moving from ocean to land, Norris elaborated on the brand's new Grab & Go line which is a slimmer package without the standard plastic tray, enhancing convenience for consumers and kids.
“In addition to making them more environmentally friendly, they’re convenient. You can take them with you on the go. They fit easily in lunch boxes, bags or even back pockets.”
One of the challenges consumers have with plant-based foods is time-intensive preparations. With snacks, the convenience factor lies in ready-to-go packaging and variety in different distribution channels.
Norris explained that by simplifying packaging and diversifying distribution strategies (from Amazon or club stores to convenience stores) products are more available and convenient for consumers.
Going bold with flavor and nutrition
According to the FMI report, 31% of shoppers are looking for high nutrition content from their plant-based products.
A rich source of iodine, iron, calcium, B12 and omega-3 fats, seaweed’s nutrient-dense content, plus its briny, umami flavor opens an opportunity for brands to capture eco and health-conscious consumers.
gimme Seaweed’s current flavor line up include wasabi, sea salt, teriyaki and sesame, and it contains 40 mg of sodium (2% of DV). The brand's recent 2022 launches include chili lime and white cheddar made of non-dairy white cheddar. He explained that the brand is “looking for popular flavors that our consumers are looking for. This way we are able to give these nutrient-rich superfood snacks…that are cravable.”
Within plant-based foods, bold flavors that include herbs and spices (in place of salt) capture the significant number of consumers who prioritize taste and texture – 71% of shoppers prefer knowing about taste and texture prior to purchasing based on data from the Plant Based Foods Association.
Further, more than half (54%) believe plant-based foods are healthy but are concerned that these products contain hidden ingredients like added sodium or additives – a crucial opportunity for plant-based food developers to get creative with better-for-you flavor formulas.