2022 prediction: This is the year that plant-based seafood catches on
Around the new year, I like to take a moment to reflect on what has transpired in the previous months and make some predictions about what is to come. First, I wrote about trends I see in the hospitality industry, then the non-COVID related challenges to the global economy’s recovery. And now, let’s revisit plant-based seafood.
Last summer, I wrote about the plant-based seafood market. In that post, I examined the progress that was being made in the industry before coming to the conclusion that plant-based seafood had the potential to be the next big thing in food.
And now, less than six months later, I believe the industry’s big moment is imminent. Here are a few reasons why:
Supply chain issues are driving up prices on seafood
Even in the best economies, many see seafood as a luxury item. But, in 2021, fresh fish and seafood prices increased 10.6% in the US–putting it out of reach for those facing financial struggles amid the pandemic. As supply chain issues and climate-related challenges persist, I believe that there will be a growing market of consumers looking for more affordable alternatives.
Awareness of plant-based alternatives on the rise
In 2020, the plant-based meat industry reached $1.4 billion in sales–a 45% increase over the previous year. Sales of milk alternatives were almost double that. As more shoppers consume, and shift their preferences towards plant-based products, a significant barrier is being removed for future products entering the market.
Targeting beyond flexitarians
While the traditional plant-based meat market targets flexitarians, seafood has additional, niche audiences it can tap into. Take, for example, pregnant women who are restricted in what fish they are allowed to consume, or those with seafood allergies. Until now, these consumers have very few alternatives, and I imagine they would be eager to try these realistic options.
A product for Gen Z
According to a recent study by Deloitte, the environment is a top concern for Gen Z. Offering clear environmental benefits, and a steady price point, plant-based seafood is an almost perfect product for this market. And, as a young demographic, Gen Z also creates the potential for customers that grow up loyal to this product and will continue to purchase as their buying power grows.
While I don’t see myself fully abandoning fresh seafood any time soon, I am always excited about a great catch. I think many consumers and chefs will feel the same–and soon.
Danilo Diazgranados is an independent investor in the global food and wine, financial services, real estate, and the hospitality sectors.