Ocean Hugger returns, partners with Nove to distribute plant-based seafood analogs

Published on
March 1, 2021

Plant-based seafood analog maker Ocean Hugger Foods, which shut down last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is back via a new partnership with plant-based food manufacturer Nove Foods. 

Ocean Hugger Foods said last June deteriorating business conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic forced it to shut down operations. Then, in September, the company said it would relaunch sometime in 2021.

Now, Ocean Hugger Foods and Thailand-based food manufacturer Nove Foods Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of NR Instant Produce Public Company Limited (NRF), have formed Ocean Hugger, Inc. The two companies did not disclose the financial terms of the partnership.

NRF is a global manufacturer of sustainably produced foods, exporting to more than 30 countries, Ocean Hugger said in a press release. The company is traded on The Stock Exchange of Thailand under the symbol "NRF."

“Through their multi-continent manufacturing capabilities and sales relationships with many of the world’s largest retailers, Nove Foods is quickly becoming a major force in the supply of cutting-edge plant-based foods. The company’s mission is to be the world’s leading co-manufacturer of alternative protein ingredients and products,” Ocean Hugger said.

Ocean Hugger’s products – along with new plant-based seafood analog products under development by Ocean Hugger, Inc. – will be the first plant-based seafood analog products for Nove, Ocean Hugger Foods Co-Founder and CEO David Benzaquen told SeafoodSource.

Through their new joint venture, Ocean Hugger Foods and Nove Foods are preparing for a global launch of an expanded portfolio of plant-based seafood products in both retail and foodservice in late 2021.

While Ocean Hugger Foods focused on the foodservice market with its core products, which include Ahimi, a tomato-based alternative to raw tuna, and Unami, an eggplant-based alternative to unagi, or eel, the new company will market around 75 percent of the products to retail and 25 percent to foodservice customers, Benzaquen said.

Nove will manufacture and distribute the products first in the United States and Europe, and then Asia.

“NRF’s primary purpose is to transform the food system for a more inclusive and sustainable world. We are thrilled to partner with the visionary team at Ocean Hugger to spread their award-winning products in furtherance of our shared mission,” Nove Foods Chairman Dan Pathomvanich said.

Benzaquen will remain active in the company as a signifiant shareholder, while Ocean Hugger Foods Co-Founder and Chef James Corwell will join the new company to manage ongoing culinary innovation along with research and development, according to Benzaquen.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our new partnership with Nove Foods. With our beloved brand and products, and Nove Foods’ strategic capabilities, the sky is the limit for this company,” Benzaquen said. 

Photo courtesy of Nove Foods

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