- Gathered Foods, makers of the plant-based fish brand Good Catch, received $32 million in a series B funding round, including investment from Lightlife parent company Greenleaf Foods and General Mills venture arm 301 Inc. The round was led by Stray Dog Capital and Rocana Ventures.
- The funds will be used to expand distribution in North America and Europe, enter Asia, open a manufacturing facility, launch new products and enter foodservice.
- Good Catch products are now available in more than 4,500 stores across the United States. The company will be launching in the U.K. within weeks, according to the release.
Less than a year after its shelf-stable plant-based tuna product arrived at stores, investors are diving into Good Catch with a single funding round hauling in nearly twice the amount of money the company had raised to date since starting in 2016.
Created by brothers Chad and Derek Sarno, Good Catch uses a blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans, with umami flavor from seaweed and algae extracts to make a product that looks, tastes and behaves like tuna fish.
With this funding, Good Catch is looking to make a big splash in 2020. After years of the plant-based food market being dominated by hamburgers, both consumers and funders are moving on to other animal-based proteins to replicate. It makes sense to support companies concentrating on seafood. According to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administation, the average American ate 16 pounds of seafood in 2017 — more than a pound more than in 2016 and the most in 10 years. About 2 pounds of that was canned tuna. In the Americas, consumer demand for canned tuna in 2018 — especially more premium tuna in a pouch — increased 44% and 30%, depending on the kind of fish, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The latest round of funding also shows Good Catch is attracting the eye of major manufacturers. General Mills' 301 Inc was founded for the legacy manufacturer to help promising startups get established — and for General Mills to learn from the startups. Many of the companies 301 Inc has invested in through the years are in the plant-based space. Beyond Meat was among the first the venture arm put its money behind. Other 301 Inc plant-based brands include vegan cheese company Kite Hill and low sugar plant-based protein bar and spread brand No Cow.
Greenleaf Foods is also a key investor. The company spun off of Maple Leaf Foods in 2018 with the intent of becoming a plant-based powerhouse. So far, Greenleaf has mostly worked on building its Lightlife and Field Roast Grain Meat products. Good Catch is its first investment, according to Crunchbase. But it's unlikely to be Greenleaf's last. The company is currently building North America's largest plant-based protein factory in Shelbyville, Indiana, which will double its manufacturing capacity. The factory should open this year.
While these two investors lend more credibility — and bandwidth for potential manufacturing, marketing and distribution partnerships — to the plant-based seafood company, it's worth noting Good Catch has always caught the attention of major producers. In a 2018 funding round, Good Catch also received money from PHW Group, one of Europe's largest poultry producers.
Good Catch is in a position to provide these major producers with a large return on their investment. It currently has few competitors, and those who are in the plant-based seafood space have much more limited distribution. And there are no hotter areas of the food business. Investment firm UBS projects the plant-based meat and protein market could be worth $85 billion in 10 years, a huge leap from the $4.6 billion market value in 2018.
The plan to expand Good Catch to Asia is also likely to reap rewards. According to Allied Market Research, the Asia-Pacific region is responsible for about two-thirds of the $125.44 billion global market for seafood. Offering these consumers a viable plant-based substitute could prove lucrative and cement Good Catch's status as a global plant-based leader.