Wild Planet to Expand After Sea Change Investment

Published on
August 14, 2008

Wild Planet Foods will expand its sustainable canned seafood line to mainstream supermarkets after receiving funding earlier this week from sustainable private equity firm Sea Change Investment Fund of San Francisco.

Wild Planet, supplied by Carvalho Fisheries, distributes canned, troll-caught albacore tuna, sockeye salmon, wild king salmon and wild shrimp to Whole Foods Market and The Real Food Co. stores. The suggested retail price for a can of Wild Planet albacore tuna is $3.70, compared to $2.49 to $2.59 for a can of mainstream albacore tuna.

Wild Planet plans to use its undisclosed investment from Sea Change to expand its product line to regional and national grocery stores.

"We will be expanding out to grocery stores over the next six months, particularly grocery stores that contain specialty foods sections or have a demographic where there is a Whole Foods Market store in the same town," says Terry Hunt, CEO of Wild Planet.

The Sea Change Investment Fund, created by Sea Change Management, invested in Wild Planet because of its environmental, health and commercial attributes.

"Wild Planet is using fish that is troll-caught, which is far better than longlines and net methods. With its management regime and catch method, it is a better product; but also on the human health side--it has low mercury," says Jason Winship, managing principal of Sea Change Management.

Wild Planet claims its albacore tuna, from the coastal waters of Northern California and Oregon, contains less mercury and significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than mainstream tuna brands.

Meanwhile, Sea Change, which has also invested in Ecofish of Dover, N.H., Look’s Gourmet Food of Whiting, Maine, and Advanced BioNutrition of Columbia, Md., is looking for other sustainable seafood companies to invest in.

"We primarily look at companies with value-added products that do things differently than the competition, or are willing to change their business practices [to be more sustainable]," says Winship. "From the commercial side, we look for superior management talent and products that consumers like--proven by retail sales and good gross margins," he adds.

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