Konscious Foods, a newly-launched alt-seafood business in Canada, has raised C$26m ($19.5m) in seed funding to spur growth in distribution.

The Vancouver-based business was set up this year by chef and entrepreneur Yves Potvin, the man behind the Gardein meat-free brand, which was sold to Pinnacle Foods in 2014 before that business was snapped up by another US food heavyweight, Conagra Brands, in 2018.

Potvin also created Yves Veggie Cuisine, which was bought by US food major Hain Celestial in 2001.

Konscious Foods produces frozen plant-based seafood for the retail and foodservice channels such as sushi rolls, Japanese-style onigiri stuffed rice snacks and poke bowls, a raw fish type dish.

“This investment validates our excitement about the demand – and critical need – for seafood made from plants,” Potvin said in a statement. “With the rising demand for fish, and subsequent overfishing crisis, we feel it is crucial to have better-for-you, better-for-the-world seafood options that don’t sacrifice taste or texture.”

Potvin added the funds will be used to expand distribution in the US and Canada, finance marketing campaigns and to “support operations” at the company’s manufacturing facility in Vancouver. Konscious Foods has already secured listings in Whole Foods Market stores.

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By GlobalData

Investors behind the funding were Protein Industries Canada, a not-for-profit plant-based organisation, Zynik Capital and the Walter Group investment company, as well as other undisclosed investors.

Pierre Somers, the chairman and CEO of the Walter Group, said: “The products offered by Konscious Foods represent a significant shift in the plant-based food space. It proves that meat-alternatives do not need to be highly processed, filled with unnatural ingredients or cost more than the incumbent products.”

Those credentials are shared by another alternative-seafood business, Aqua Cultured Foods in Chicago. The company is producing fish, shrimp and scallops through a microbial fermentation process but has yet to launch commercially.

Speaking to Just Food last month, co-founder and CEO Anne Palermo said Aqua Cultured Foods’ seafood alternatives are “clean label, better-for-you products that don’t have a laundry list of ingredients” as many consumers “push-back on highly processed foods”.