US seafood processor Bumble Bee Foods has launched a US$40m sustainability fund to improve the health of the world’s oceans, including an extension to its efforts to promote plant-based alternatives.

San Diego-based Bumble Bee said it has created the Accelerator Fund to focus on “further closing the gap on some of the biggest industry challenges in the sustainability space”.  

The Accelerator will seek to ensure the availability of tuna stocks, remove plastics and waste from the seas, and reduce the impact of fishing on other species. Chief executive Jan Tharp said in a statement the fund will also “pursue new ideas, partners and technologies, while also continuing to advance several current initiatives”.

Earlier this year, Bumble Bee formed a partnership with Gathered Foods Corp., a US manufacturer of seafood alternatives, including the Good Catch plant-based brand. 

Tharp continued: “Our sustainability journey started many years ago and we’re proud of our past accomplishments, but now is the time to accelerate our actions. It’s the right thing to do for our planet, for the billions of people who rely on seafood for sustenance and for the long-term success of our business.”

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Bumble Bee markets its products in the US and Canada under its namesake brand, and also Brunswick and Clover Leaf. In February, the company completed the sale of its North American assets to FCF, a Taiwan-based seafood firm.

Previously owned by UK-based private-equity firm Lion Capital, Bumble Bee filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year in the face of criminal fines and lawsuits related to a price-fixing case.

On the sustainability front, Bumble Bee said it aims to eliminate the plastic shrink wrap on its multipack products and will seek to make all its packaging 95% recyclable this year, increasing to 98% by 2025. 

Tharp added: “Our bold goals for the future are based on our unwavering focus to restore and protect the health of our oceans. Our past efforts are inspiring the path forward, and we’re building in flexibility and accountability along the way.”