Ocean Hugger Foods, creators of plantbased seafood, last month unveiled its new innovation, a freshwater eel product made from aubergine (eggplant), at the Dot Foods Innovations conference, in St. Louis, Missouri. The new launch follows the success of Ocean Hugger’s flagship product, Ahimi – a tomato based sushi of which the company reportedly sold 200,000 lbs of in 2018.
According to seafood publication Undercurrent News, the new eel alternative is being marketed under the name “Unami” – which is similar to the Japanese word for eel – “unagi” – and it is made from eggplant marinaded in “a mixture of gluten-free soy sauce, mirin, and algae oil which infuses it with a rich umami flavor and simultaneously gives it omega-3s.” Reportedly, the only 200 Unami products ever made are no longer in existence as they were all given away as samples to interested parties.
Undercurrent News reports that Ocean Hugger, which recently received backing from Kale Invest, has produced another batch for its distributor in LA and is working with a processing partner in Thailand in order to keep up with the demand. The company originally had an agreement to include Ahimi in the sushi section of 20 Whole Foods, but this has already risen to 80, soon to be 100. Wismettic Asian Foods, one of the biggest distributors of sushi products in the US, recently purchased a stake in Ocean Hugger.
CEO David Benzaquen said to the publication that the company has plans to add two further seafood alternative products within the next 12 months, and that at present he is interested solely in supplying to foodservice companies as he believes sushi products do not sell well in retail.