One of the biggest names in canned tuna is partnering with a plant-based seafood brand to expand its reach.

By Jelisa Castrodale
Updated March 02, 2020

This has already been a big year for Good Catch, the plant-based seafood startup that turns algae oil and what it describes as a "proprietary six-legume blend" into a fish-free tuna replacement. In January, General Mills was among those who invested $32 million into Good Catch, money that the seafood-alternative company says it will use to expand beyond the United States and to increase the number of products it offers.

Courtesy of Bumble Bee Foods

"Plant-based tuna is the culmination of our experience as plant-based chefs, combined with our passion for healthy eating as well as animal and environmental welfare," Good Catch co-founder Chad Sarno previously said. "We’re redefining seafood for omnivores and plant based eaters alike."

And now Good Catch has a new partner for its future efforts, and it's a traditional (read: fish-based) tuna company. On Monday, Bumble Bee Foods announced a joint venture partnership with Gathered Foods Corporation, the makers of Good Catch. Bumble Bee has pledged to use its own existing networks to put Good Catch-brand products into additional retailers and to keep its prices affordable. (Although maybe Bumble Bee should sit out that whole pricing conversation.)

Regardless, Bumble Bee has become the first—and, as of this writing, the only—major seafood company to join forces with one of its plant-based contemporaries. "This partnership is a win for Bumble Bee, Good Catch, consumers and the health of our oceans. Bumble Bee has always been deeply committed to sustainable fishing and we have been actively working to manage fish stocks across our portfolio,” Jan Tharp, Bumble Bee Foods President and CEO, said in a statement.

“It is critically important that as an industry we continue to find innovative solutions to decouple growth with environmental impact. Providing great-tasting alternative ways for consumers to enjoy ocean-inspired foods is a key pillar of our long-term commitment to ocean health.”

Bumble Bee has also had a few big months, but it's been the wrong kind of big. In November, the company filed for bankruptcy for a number of reasons related to its role in a canned tuna price-fixing scheme. (The United States Department of Justice gave it 25 million reasons, after fining the company $25 million for its actions, and it had a number of civil lawsuits to contend with on top of that).

The canned tuna giant entered into a purchase agreement with Taiwanese seafood supplier FCF Company Ltd. at the time it declared bankruptcy, and the deal was finalized on January 31. According to a statement from FCF, the two companies had maintained a "productive supplier-purchaser relationship" for more than three decades.

As for Good Catch, it currently offers its plant-based fish-free tuna in three flavors: naked in water, Mediterranean, and Oil and Herb. It has promised that additional products will be available later this spring. "Plant-based tuna is now a thing," it says on its website.

And with its big-name investors and new partnership, it's a thing that could be here to stay.

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