Plant-based seafood startup Kuleana enters the US seafood market, which is estimated at $159B according to Allied Market Research. The first product from the seafood specialist is raw tuna, which is the initial step for the company on its way to “create next generation seafood with plants and biotechnology.”
Although the US market for vegan meat substitutes is booming, the plant-based seafood category is still a small fraction of the plant-based meat market. In 2019, the global plant-based meat market was worth over $12 billion, while plant-based seafood accounted for just one percent of the meat market valued at $9.5 million, as reported by the GOOD FOOD Institute.
In 2020, seafood alternatives were predicted to become hit the mainstream, with an increasing number of companies seeing market success, including Good Catch and its range of hugely popular tuna products. However, plant-based raw seafood has not yet reached market potential due to its delicate texture, which is extremely difficult to replicate, making Kuleana the current expert on raw tuna.
The expertise of the founding team, Sonia Hurtado and Jacek Prus, was formed by working with over 50 startups in the plant-based industry. Jacek Prus was also involved in setting up the ProVeg Incubator, the world’s leading accelerator for plant-based and cultured food startups. In case of Kuleana, he secured an investment from startup accelerator Y Combinator earlier this year.
As of right now, the company has over $400k in LOI’s from national seafood distributors and restaurants, as Kuleana plans to be available in sushi restaurants across the US. Jacek Prus explains the interest in his company and the relevance for the seafood market behind it in a statement: “Unlike meat products, Tuna is caught wild with a quickly declining population due to overfishing and they can’t be farmed which creates a supply shortage and high price point. This presents a golden opportunity to enter the market with alternatives.”