Interviews

Seed to Surf: “With Tinned Fish Being Popular Right Now, We’re On Trend in the Marketplace”

Canada’s Seed to Surf is unique in its offering of tinned fish created from whole vegetables and fungi to create a “fresh reinterpretation of seafood that highlights the incredible potential of plants”.

While the brand is recreating the traditional seafood experience with these products, Seed to Surf stresses that these are not replicas but, rather, an “homage to vegetables and their incredible capacity to take on taste and texture. By preserving and preparing them just right, we found vegetables can remind us of the seafood classics we love (or loved)”.

These unusual, original canned products are firm consumer favourites, so we had to catch up with co-founder Alex Bergquist, still celebrating the brand’s recent listing at over 150 Whole Foods Market locations in North America, to find out more about the company and future plans.

SeedToSurf mushroom snow crab pack shot
© Seed to Surf

Can you share the inspiration behind founding Seed to Surf, and your mission or aim?
We’re co-founded and led by aspiring marine biologists, long-time vegans and passionate conservationists who believe wholeheartedly in our product, what we stand for, and its unlimited potential. Our product is shelf stable, keto, gluten-free, zero-waste and requires low energy to store.

Further, we’re sustainable and vegan/plant-based, and have incredible flavour versatility. And with tinned fish being as popular as it is right now, we’re on trend in the marketplace, all while exploring the untapped marketplace of vegan conservas.

Our vision is a fresh interpretation of seafood that meets consumers where they are, by highlighting the limitless potential of plants.

How do you position Seed to Surf within the plant-based market, and what differentiates your products from other plant-based seafood alternatives?
We harness the potential of whole vegetables to recreate the seafood experience. We don’t consider our product a compromise; instead, we offer a fresh reinterpretation of seafood, emphasizing the limitless potential of plants.

Seed to Surf
© Seed to Surf

Could you elaborate on the choice of ingredients, specifically celery root and enoki mushrooms, and the process involved in turning them into seafood alternatives?
With lots of culinary testing, we found them to be great representations of texture, they are also interesting and premium vegetables!

What challenges did you face in developing your products, and how did you overcome them?
Too many to list! Nailing the ‘sea taste’ with kombu was definitely a challenge!

Can you explain the role of retort technology in your production process and how it benefits the final product in terms of texture and preservation?
We use retort canning. it’s actually a very “old school” manufacturing process, but it’s definitely making a comeback. It’s a great way to achieve shelf stability, which was very important to us from a sustainability perspective.

Seed to Surf pack shot
© Seed to Surf

Can you discuss your current distribution channels and any plans for expansion into further markets or channels?
We just rolled out to 150+ Whole Foods! It’s a huge deal for a startup, we hope to continue to expand in North America, but also have our sights on our markets, particularly Europe where tinned fish is very popular.

Can you elaborate more on this (we’d love to see you in Europe)?
We are just in the first inning of exploring the EU. We’d love to find new partners or get recommendations.

So, anyone reading this, please email us at [email protected]. We believe that a master import partner would be the best way to strategically gain awareness and distribution in the EU market.

What are the benefits and challenges of offering your products both wholesale and through retail channels? 
Our main focus is wholesale, but we love offering our super fans a D2C experience, given we are based in Canada, logistics can be a challenge.

Seed to Surf poke bowl
© Seed to Surf

Are there any innovations in the pipeline for Seed to Surf that you can share?
We are working on a line-up of vegan seafood soups. We hope to launch them in winter of 2025.

What are the future plans for Seed to Surf, and where would you like to be in 3 to 5 years?
We hope to be a leader in the plant-based seafood space with a large array of products. But always stay true to our values of highlighting the limitless potential of plants. Seed to Surf will always be plant (vegetable or fruit) first!

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