Plant-based seafood analog developer Gathered Foods names new CEO
Gathered Foods, the developer of plant-based seafood analogs under the Good Catch brand, has appointed Christine Mei as its new chief executive officer.
Mei comes to the role with over 30 years of experience in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. Her career trajectory thus far includes positions in marketing, strategy, sales, and operations, with assignments based out of the U.S., China, and Hong Kong. She has served in a leadership capacity for many companies, including Beiersdorf, Royal Philips, The Coca-Cola Company, Nike, and Procter & Gamble.
Most recently, Mei was an investor and mentor for SKU, a CPG accelerator based out of Austin, Texas, where she advised startups.
"I'm so energized about the tremendous potential for the Good Catch brand. In fact, the future of the entire plant-based food industry is on a trajectory of positive disruption," Mei said in a 23 July press release. "It's both humbling and exhilarating to be able to amplify social impact through purposeful innovation in the plant-based seafood space. I'm really looking forward to collaborating with co-founders Chris Kerr, Chad and Derek Sarno to set Good Catch onto its next curve of growth."
Kerr previously held the title of CEO, and with Mei’s appointment, he will focus his attentions on his role as the firm’s executive chair. Mei and Kerr will work with the broader team “to steer the growth of the company,” Gathered Foods said.
Mei’s presence in Austin, a city known for its startup culture, is expected to further establish Good Catch’s footprint there, according to Kerr.
"At Gathered Foods, we thrive on collaboration and bringing together creative minds to join our mission to make a difference," Kerr said. "We're beyond excited to have been able to attract someone like Christine to lead our enterprise. She brings such a wealth of experience in the CPG space, with a focus on catapulting brands to their full potential. The future of our brand is bright and we are excited for what's to come with Christine at the helm."
The appointment of Mei follows a successful USD 36.8 million (EUR 31.7 million) Series B financing round for Good Catch earlier this year. The brand also recently expanded its distribution footprint on an international scale with its Tesco launch in the U.K., and announced a joint distribution venture with Bumble Bee Foods. Jan Tharp, the president and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods, joined the board of directors of Gathered Foods this year as well.
Celebrities such as Woody Harrelson, Shailene Woodley, Paris Hilton, and Lance Bass have announced their support for Good Catch, which the company said signifies that more people are beginning to believe in the future of plant-based seafood alternatives.
Earlier in July, Good Catch launched a new line of frozen seafood entrees and appetizers. The New York City-based company rolled out New England Style Plant-Based Crab Cakes, Thai Style Plant-Based Fish Cakes, and Classic Style Plant-Based Fish Burgers to East Coast retailers, with a suggested retail price of USD 5.99 (EUR 5.29) each.
While Gathered Foods continues to find success in 2020, other plant-based seafood analog developers haven’t been as fortunate. In late June, Ocean Hugger Foods said it “must cease operations” due to deteriorating business conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Over the last four years, we have been honored and privileged to serve our business partners and the general public with groundbreaking and award-winning, plant-based alternatives to some of the most endangered species on our planet. We will be forever grateful for your belief in this essential mission, and our business,” Ocean Hugger stated on its website on 23 June.
Ocean Hugger’s portfolio of seafood alternatives included raw-tuna substitute Ahimi and raw-eel substitute Unami. Created by certified master chef James Corwell, Ahimi is a vegan, non-GMO product comprised of five ingredients: Tomatoes, filtered water, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar. Unami, which was launched at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Illinois in June 2019, features eggplant marinated in gluten-free soy sauce, mirin, and algae oil.
Photo courtesy of Gathered Foods