- Current Foods, which makes plant-based raw seafood, was acquired by Wicked Kitchen in an all-stock transaction. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- Wicked Kitchen CEO Pete Speranza said in a statement the acquisition focuses on an “exciting growth segment” and reflects the plant-based industry’s need for consolidation. Current Foods, formerly known as Kuleana, makes plant-based seafood for foodservice and fine dining locations in the U.S. and Europe. Its plant-based tuna fillet won a FABI Award at the National Restaurant Association Show last weekend.
- Plant-based seafood is an area for growth, analysts have said. Last year, Wicked Kitchen acquired plant-based seafood maker Good Catch, in a move to extend the company’s reach in the expanding category.
With this acquisition, Wicked Kitchen is pulling in a brand that has won numerous accolades and has a unique position in the plant-based market. The deal also helps Wicked Kitchen expand its options for foodservice and retail, and become a larger force in the sector.
"Current Foods is a perfect match for Wicked as a global-impact brand with the same mission and complementary products," Speranza said in the press release. "With this deal and the Good Catch acquisition, we're uniquely positioned as consumers continually learn about the environmental impact realities on sea life."
Current Foods got its start in 2019. Its products are made from ingredients including pea protein, sunflower oil, bamboo fiber, and algae oil. Current’s products are available at restaurants nationwide, including Chef Guy Vaknin's City Roots Hospitality in New York City and Blue Sushi Sake Grill. The company’s smoked salmon product is sold at a handful of retail stores.
In its lifetime as a company, Current Foods has received support from both big investors — including Greatpoint Ventures, Union Grove and Astantor Ventures — and notable people including NBA athlete Chris Paul. The company has worked to be at the forefront of the plant-based seafood sector, even setting a world record for serving the largest plant-based ceviche at once last year.
Wicked Kitchen is on its way to becoming a ubiquitous plant-based brand in the United States and Europe. Its products are currently available at 90,000 distribution points. It has more than 40 different products in the U.S. and more than 150 products in the U.K. Retail products under the Wicked Kitchen brand include heat-and-eat entrees, frozen pizza and ice cream pints and novelties.
As the plant-based meat space has seen sales slowing — and some brands closing — many analysts have projected large-scale consolidation would be coming soon. This deal is keeping with that prediction, and will help Wicked Kitchen strengthen its position in the plant-based space.
"There's only so much shelf space and we're all fighting for volume," Speranza said in the release. "The industry needs transformation to sustain innovation and competitive advantage. Wicked is ahead of the curve."
The acquisition also brings something new to Wicked Kitchen. While the company does have its Good Catch seafood brand, those products are cooked seafood analogs. Current Foods will not be competing with those, and would likely be appearing in different kinds of foodservice and in different areas of retail stores.
Year-over-year, plant-based seafood sales increased by 40% in 2022, according to Datassential statistics presented by the Plant Based Foods Association, so this is a segment that could continue to see growth. With Current Foods’ recent recognition at the NRA Show, Wicked Kitchen has made this acquisition right on time to quickly capitalize on new interest for the brand.