Hong Kong’s OmniFoods units its sights on plant-based seafood

In an announcement first shared with CNN Enterprise, the corporate mentioned Tuesday it’s launching a brand new line of merchandise that embrace alternate options to fish fillets, fish burgers and cuts of tuna.

“It is rather a lot the key white house that has not been tapped,” David Yeung, founding father of Inexperienced Monday Group, OmniFoods’ mother or father firm, mentioned in an interview, noting the announcement was timed to coincide with World Oceans Day. “Everybody has been clearly targeted on beef, hen, pork.”

Lately, OmniFoods has constructed a reputation for itself in Asia with OmniPork, its plant-based pork substitute that’s offered in juicy xiao lengthy bao soup dumplings and McDonald’s meals throughout mainland China and Hong Kong. The corporate additionally not too long ago launched a meat-free reply to spam.
Yeung mentioned his workforce had dreamed of arising with its personal tackle seafood for no less than three years, significantly due to the big function such meals play in shoppers’ diets throughout the area. Asia is “by far the biggest fish shopper,” in keeping with the Group for Financial Cooperation and Growth, and its demand for seafood provides OmniFoods a “large” alternative on its house turf, Yeung mentioned.

The brand new merchandise are crafted from among the similar components used within the firm’s pork imitation, equivalent to soy and rice. They may first hit eating places in Hong Kong beginning this month, with plans for retail and abroad rollouts later this yr.

The road may also be expanded to incorporate new gadgets, equivalent to plant-based salmon.

Yeung mentioned his firm is eyeing a launch for the vary in mainland China, Southeast Asia, the UK and Australia within the coming months, with the objective of localizing its dishes for purchasers in every market.

A few of these embrace shopper favorites equivalent to Sichuanese spicy fish stew, British fish and chips or Japanese tuna rice rolls, he added.

“Native or regional understanding is paramount,” mentioned Yeung. “We can not assume that any success in Hong Kong is a hit in Malaysia. We completely can not assume that. And success in Malaysia definitely would not translate to success in Korea.”

Inexperienced Monday Group, which has raised greater than $100 million up to now from buyers together with celebrities equivalent to James Cameron and Bono, is not shy about its ambitions to go world.

The corporate not too long ago soft-launched OmniFoods in California, and plans to launch throughout the US in Complete Meals within the third quarter of this yr.

“We’re completely getting into the US,” mentioned Yeung.

OmniFoods' new plant-based fish burger.

The subsequent frontier

Whereas plant-based seafood nonetheless “stays area of interest,” it’s persevering with to emerge and “pull loads of traction,” in keeping with Felix Wong, a senior analyst at Euromonitor Worldwide, a market analysis supplier.

The class is anticipated to develop as shoppers crave novelty to stave off “boredom” from the pandemic, he advised CNN Enterprise.

Wong mentioned he particularly sees potential in Asia, “contemplating fish and seafood is a key protein contributor in lots of Southeast Asian markets like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.”

OmniFoods is way from the one participant breaking into the house. Final yr, Nestlé introduced its entrance into the class, rolling out a vegan tuna product in Switzerland. Unattainable has additionally beforehand introduced it was engaged on an alternate fish product.

Yeung shrugged off considerations when requested about competitors.

“Customers want alternative,” he mentioned. “We do not [always] eat the identical factor. Like, even [with] pizza, we do not eat the identical model of pizza.”

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Relating to educating shoppers, the corporate plans to undertake an identical playbook as what it did with pretend meat. Yeung mentioned he expects to sort out among the similar questions he is gotten since “day one” of launching his first product, equivalent to merely: “What’s that?”

To that finish, a lot of the job will probably be about serving to paint an image for purchasers: touting dishes they’ll clearly anticipate, equivalent to the corporate’s plant-based fish tacos or “filet-no-fish burger.”

Then there may be the sustainability facet.

Yeung credited “Seaspiracy,” the hit Netflix documentary, with elevating consciousness of the risks of overfishing and the necessity for different options.

“It simply opens individuals’s minds [to the fact] that moreover the issue on land, we even have issues within the ocean,” mentioned Yeung.

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