Seed to Surf sails on to Whole Foods shelves with vegan tinned seafood

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Seed to Surf
Source: Seed to Surf

Related tags plant-based seafood Seafood seafood alternatives

Canadian-based vegan seafood brand Seed to Surf is debuting its tinned fish product at more than 150 US Whole Foods Markets after completing the retailer’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP), and is teeing innovation in the soup category, company CEO and founder Alex Bergquist told FoodNavigator-USA.

Seed to Surf offers two plant-based tinned fishes, including Mushroom Snow Crab and Celery Root Smoked Whitefish. Each product has five or six ingredients and is shelf-stable for up to three years.

A vegan, Bergquist wanted to create plant-based products that provide an authentic seafood taste. Instead of recreating something that already exists, Seed to Surf wanted to “celebrate vegetables for what they are,” Bergquist said.

“We want it to be approachable for everybody and enjoyable for everybody, and it happens to be vegan as well. So, whether you are vegan or vegetarian or you just like vegetables or you are just curious about ... sustainability or for any ethical reasons, we are that first nice step,” she added.  

Completing the Whole Foods LEAP program

Seed to Surf is hitting Whole Foods shelves after completing LEAP, a 12-week mentor and education program that provides brands with direct financial support. Out of nearly 1,000 applications, Seed to Surf was one of ten brands selected for the program's Early Growth cohort.

“A little bit of luck, a lot of passion and being innovative ...helped us get through the door,” Bergquist said on finding success with LEAP.

Though plant-based seafood faces market headwinds, Seed to Surf is tapping into the demand for tinned seafood products, Bergquist explained. Last year, tinned seafood had a viral social media moment​, as the food found its way on charcuterie boards and younger consumers tried products for the first time.

To grow, Seed to Surf is focusing on the US market because of the market opportunity and economic conditions in Canada, she explained. Seed to Surf is also finding ways to save money, including securing a favorable deal with distributor UNFI, she added.

“Every step of the way, [we] say, ‘How do we try and save costs? Without trying to increase the retail of our product, how do we make this as financially viable as we can every step of the way.’ Selling direct has been really great, and quite candidly, selling in the US has been really great,” Bergquist said. “Even if we are selling in the US, and we work with a distributor in the US, it is profitable for us because of the economic climate that we are in.”

Next steps: ‘Creating products that have a higher velocity’

Moving forward, Seed to Surf is exploring ways  consider ‘to diversify’ for more specificity its portfolio and business through new product innovation, including soups, while sticking to its “roots, figuratively and literally,” Bergquist said.

"One thing we realized is that we need to build something that has the potential to have higher velocities. So, we are actually in the process of developing a line of vegan soups," Bergquist said. "We also want to make a product that people gravitate to or would feel a little bit more confident to purchase maybe initially and then continue to repurchase."

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