Hong Kong-based alternative seafood-maker sees opportunities in China, US
A Hong Kong-based producer of alternative proteins plans to distribute its new range of alternative seafood through a worldwide network of stores and sees potential to manufacture in the U.S. as well as in its plants in China and Thailand.
David Yeung, the CEO of the Hong Kong-based Green Monday Group, which operates OmniFoods, told SeafoodSource his range of OmniSeafood products will soon be launched into a distribution network spanning 20 markets. The range, which includes OmniTuna and OmniSalmon, will sell in a global network that currently sells the range of OmniPork products previously developed by Green Monday.
“Since we have launched OmniPork in over 20 markets, we hope to introduce OmniSeafood to those markets very soon,” Yeung said.
Yeung said consumers are drawn to Green Monday products for dietary as well as environmental and ethical reasons.
“Take the Omni Golden Fillet, for example. When compared to a fried fish fillet, it has lower calories, saturated fats, and sodium, while having a higher dietary-fiber content. The protein content is comparable to real fish, [and] our products also contain omega-3 like fish does," Yeung said. "All OmniSeafood products are cholesterol-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and cruelty-free.”
Customer motivation does differ across countries however, Yeung said.
“For the Chinese, they purchase plant-based products as it is a healthier alternative compared to actual meat, with the same flavor and texture while free from the risk of viruses, hormones, and antibiotics,” Yeung said. “The Americans will consider the environmental impact, as plant-based products cut down the carbon footprint drastically, and climate change is an imminent danger.”
A vegetarian, Yeung has built up the Green Commons chain of health food stores cum restaurants in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore. He declined to detail commercial targets for the OmniSeafood range.
Even though China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of conventional seafood and meats like pork, it is also showing signs of embracing alternative proteins. McDonald’s has launched a plant-based breakfast menu at its mainland China outlets. OmniPork luncheon meat is featured at 800 Chinese outlets of McDonalds.
OmniFoods has lowered prices to compete, cutting the price of its OmniPork products by 22 percent this summer in response to more efficient and larger-scale production.
“That’s a sign that the demand is increasing,” Yeung said.
His firm chose Thailand and China as initial manufacturing bases “given our early market position in Asia,” said Yeung.
“But of course we can manufacture in the U.S,” he said. “That said, every country and market has a unique regulatory scheme. So there could be minor tweaks in terms of ingredients and/or food labeling.”
Plant-based seafood alternatives are rapidly growing in popularity in the United States. Traditional seafood companies have sought to take advantage of the trend: Bumble Bee Foods is collaborating with Gathered Foods Corporation, which makes Good Catch plant-based seafood products including alternative crab cakes and “fish-free tuna,” and Thai Union recently launched its OMG Meat range for flexitarians.
Yeung said he encourages more seafood firms to get on board with the plant-based seafood alternative movement.
“We all have to admit that the current fishing practices are unsustainable. According to research by the UN, a third of the world’s fish [are] captured unsustainably, and ocean pollution is more serious than ever,” he said. “We are in dire need of immediate action before the ocean is beyond saving.”
Photo courtesy of OmniFoods