Nestlé announced this week its newest product release: a plant-based tuna called Vuna, which is the company’s first seafood alternative product. Vuna will first be available in Switzerland.
Nestlé’s fish-free tuna contains six plant-based ingredients, with pea protein being the key component. Although Nestlé did not disclose the rest of the ingredients, they did say the tuna product is high in protein and contains essential amino acids. The Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland has spent the past nine months developing the product, which will be released under the Swiss brand Garden Gourmet.
Nestlé is among the largest food manufacturers in the world and is growing its plant-based portfolio. Two of its brands, Garden Gourment and Sweet Earth, offer plant-based meat alternatives like chicken nuggets, sausages, and burger patties. Nestlé also launched its Incredible burger last year, though it changed the name of the product to Sensational Burger after Impossible pressed a trademark infringement case.
With a growing population correlating to a growing demand for seafood, plant-based alternatives offers a solution to feeding a protein hungry planet. The seafood industry is currently worth $15 billion, and given the microplastics found in fish and overfishing threatening traditional fish, the plant-based seafood industry certainly has the opportunity to expand.
Overall, plant-based seafood alternative companies have raised $35 million in investments as of June 2020. Plant-based seafood currently only accounts for 1 percent of total plant-based meat sales, and sales of plant-based foods are quickly outpacing the sales growth of animal-based foods. There is certainly room and opportunity for more alternative seafood products and companies in the plant-based space.
Nestlé’s Vuna joins other companies like Good Catch and Sophie’s Kitchen which also offer plant-based fish. Other large CPGs also see the potential in plant-based seafood. General Mills, for example, is an investor in Good Catch.
For now, Nestlé’s tuna alternative product is currently only available in the Switzerland, though the company has with future plans to roll out in other markets. The tuna will come refrigerated in a glass jar and be available in select retail locations.