Swedish food startup Hooked has been developing a plant-based tuna alternative and what it claims to be the first-ever vegan shredded salmon made with soy protein, seaweed, and algae oil.
The company is aiming to meet the 'rapidly increasing' demand for seafood with healthy, tasty, and planet-friendly alternatives.
Hooked was founded by Swedish entrepreneurs Emil Wasteson and Tom Johansson in 2019 after Johansson's sister decided to go vegan.
"There existed very few products and none that tasted good, or had the same nutritional value as traditional seafood," Tom Johansson told FoodNavigator.
The pair decided to develop seafood alternatives after researching and finding out that the seafood industry is unsustainable.
"It became obvious that the current seafood industry is environmentally unsustainable, and that seafood consists of more toxins than ever before. With the booming of plant-based foods, we saw a great market potential as well as an opportunity to make a large social impact," Johansson said.
They decided to focus on two of the most consumed seafood products on the continent - tuna and salmon.
"The issue lies in producing as much as possible for as low cost as possible. Demand is growing for seafood, what is [compromised] is the health of the animals and the planet," said Johanson.
Overfishing is a serious concern around the world and it's threatening the species. The fish are caught at a faster rate than they can reproduce naturally. An estimated 65% of fish populations are overfished in European seas. This number is as high as 96% in the Mediterranean Sea.
Johanson said: "Changing the way we consume food is needed more than ever for us to live sustainably on the planet."
"By consuming Hooked's products, consumers can enjoy seafood without any of these negative consequences. We are meeting the rapidly increased seafood demand with healthy and tasty alternatives with a production that can scale without harming the planet," he explained.
Shredded vegan salmon and tuna can be used in pasta dishes, pizzas, wraps, salads, and bowls.
Hooked's chief technical officer Peter Liu said: "We want to mimic the real nutritional value of [conventional seafood]. Most of the plant-based meat that you see on the market may have good texture and taste, but the nutrition is not there. So we want to make our product as healthy and as nutritious as possible."
The products also contain seaweed and sea algae to mimic the flavours of the sea. Algal oil will provide omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA and EPA. The company will use a wet extrusion technology to achieve the proper texture and natural flavours, such as carrot, for the colouring, and smoked ingredients for the perfect taste profile.
Hooked is planning to launch the tuna alternative in partnership with a co-packing business from the Netherlands.
The company is targeting the European market first, where it says vegan seafood alternatives products are limited.
"After creating a strong market position in our local Sweden market, we are going to our neighbour countries in the Nordics," the founders said.
"[Our] vision is to become the leading plant-based seafood company in Europe," they added.