Israeli startup Plantish became the first company to debut a whole-cut plant-based salmon filet with the announcement of Plantish Salmon. The company claims that the analogue delivers the same taste, texture and nutritional profile as real salmon without harming any fish. So, how will Plantish fair against its competitors in the burgeoning alt-seafood category and the $50 billion salmon industry?
Plantish Salmon was designed to mimic its fish counterpart in every way, including a flakey texture, fibrous structure and buttery mouthfeel in order to imitate the eating experience without the need to harm a single fish. To match the nutritional profile of fish, the plant-based salmon filets are high in Omega-3s, Omega-6s, protein and B vitamins.
Most fish are consumed in whole-cut filets, but most alt-seafood products are made to mimic ground fish, such as crab cakes. To address this gap in the market, Plantish created its salmon using a proprietary blend of plant proteins and harnessed the power of technology to produce a whole-cut filet that can be prepared in the same ways as traditional salmon, including baking, grilling and poaching.
“The complexities for creating whole-cut fish are not only in creating the mimicked taste, texture, and mouthfeel, but also two other crucial criteria: structure and scalability,” the company said in a press release. “Using the right plant proteins to achieve the fibrous strands meant to replicate the complex texture of animal muscle is the key to succeeding in capturing the experience of eating salmon, and doing so at scale will make it a suitable substitute for foodservice, restaurants and retail.”
To realize its goal, the startup recently raised $2 million in a seed funding round that included participation from Michelin-starred chef José Andrés and the Sustainable Ocean Alliance. Plantish will use the funding to scale production of its salmon filets to make it an affordable and viable swap for fish at the retail level. Plantish also plans to showcase its realistic salmon alternative at select pop-ups by the end of 2022 and aims for a wider launch by 2024.
The six-month old startup didn’t just create Plantish Salmon to fill a gap in the plant-based fish market, but also to address and curb the environmental damage caused by the fishing industry. Fish pulled from the ocean are also increasingly filled with microplastics due to human pollution. Not to mention, large-scale fishing operations catch and often unintentionally kill untargeted marine life. While Plantish is unique in creating a whole-cut filet, a growing number of startups are challenging the $586 billion global fish industry.
Good Catch Foods recently launched its first plant-based salmon product, a burger made from its six-plant protein blend (peas, soy, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils and navy beans). Late last year, online vegan retailer GTFO It’s Vegan announced the launch of its own vegan sashimi, including tuna, salmon and calamari. Lab-grown fish innovation is also well underway with companies like BlueNalu and Wildetype, but the category needs more time to scale and receive regulatory approval.
Meanwhile, Plantish has big aspirations to “save the oceans and eliminate the need to consume marine animals by providing more sustainable, more nutritious and more delicious fish options,” said Plantish co-founder and CEO Ofek Ron, in the same press release.