Tuna leader Thai Union developing alternative seafood

Thai Union, the world’s largest tuna company and owner of Red Lobster restaurants, is investing in a research center to develop plant-based and lab-grown seafood alternatives as the company charts a course for sustainability and innovation.

Development of alternative forms of seafood is about a decade behind plant-based beef, according to Maarten Geraets, Managing Director of Alternative Proteins at Thai Union. That presents a huge opportunity for the company, he said.

“The idea is to invest in deep tech — technology for the future,” Geraets said. “Cell-based could be a very plausible next step for us.”

Cell-based meats are produced by placing existing meat cells in a nutrient solution that promotes their growth until there are enough of them for an actual piece of meat or fish. This eliminates animal suffering as none are slaughtered for food, and prevents residues in the meat from antibiotics, pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals consumed by animals.

Thai Union unveiled a plant-based line of seafood products about a year ago. The company sells alternative seafood nuggets, seafood burger patties and dim sum under its OMG Meat brand. Tyson and Nestle have also entered this field. Alternative proteins and meats are in a young field in which advances, improvements and new technologies are on the horizon.

Thai Union set up a venture capital fund last year to invest in startups engaged in developing cell-grown fish meat and plant-based fish meat. Many of the startups are based in Asia.

Thai Union is the owner of Chicken of the Sea and John West brands, among others.

Photo courtesy of: https://thaiunionalternativeprotein.com/products