When Good Catch Foods brought a plant-based tuna alternative to the market in 2019, the goal was to raise awareness of overfishing and other challenges in the seafood market, reduce harm to the ocean and preserve environmental resources.
Today, the brand offers a range of seafood alternatives from fish sticks and crab cakes to fish burgers and filets, all made from a protein-packed, six-legume blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans.
Here, Chad Sarno, co-founder and chief culinary officer of Gathered Foods (makers of Good Catch) talks about breaking barriers, creating a market and giving consumers what they want.
What was the retail climate like when you first launched Good Catch?
Chad Sarno: When we first launched with our tuna solution in early 2019, plant-based options were already gaining momentum in the marketplace and haven’t let up since. The plant-based seafood space was lacking options and consumers weren’t aware of the possibilities of innovation in the category. Consumers have always been eager to try plant-based meat solutions, and the new products launching across categories today is a direct result of this excitement.
What do you think it is about Good Catch that resonates most with consumers?
CS: It all starts with the consumer. We have to create a product that they love eating and want to enjoy again and again. If we can’t accomplish that, then the brand doesn’t have much of a chance. We’ve focused on the taste and texture of our products to make sure we’re leading the plant-based seafood space with a delicious culinary experience. In mid-2021, we launched our new breaded line of plant-based seafood products, which includes plant-based Fish Fillets, plant-based Fish Sticks and plant-based Crab Cakes. These innovative new products have been a tipping point for us. Sales have been fantastic and consumers are loving our plant-based seafood solutions. It’s all about giving consumers what they are craving.
Why do you think Good Catch Fish-Free Tuna won the Editors' Choice Best New Food NEXTY Award in 2017?
CS: Back in 2017, our Good Catch plant-based tuna wasn’t even on the market yet, but we entered it into the NEXTY Awards. We knew it was so incredibly innovative from a textural experience and brought a protein formula comparable to the real thing, something that simply wasn’t on the market. The judges, thankfully, agreed with us.
What about in 2019 and 2020, when Good Catch won back-to-back in the "Best New Meat Alternative or Dairy Alternative" category for Plant-Based Tuna in Water and Plant-Based Crab Cakes, respectively?
CS: Again, it’s about innovation and creating something entirely new that tastes delicious and checks the boxes of what consumers want in a solution: comparable taste, texture, etc. This principle is at the heart and soul of our business and it’s why we’ve won so many awards for our products to date. We are driven by culinary innovation and with over 200 species from the oceans consumed globally, there is a ton of opportunity for plant-based innovation.
Since winning your first NEXTY Award, how has your brand evolved? How has consumer understanding of your products evolved?
CS: Since winning our first NEXTY Award, we’ve garnered a lot more brand awareness and recognition across the industry. We’ve grown our portfolio from plant-based tuna to over 10 products on the market. Consumers have embraced our brand and become advocates for us. We’re continuing to see more and more flexitarian consumers exploring plant-based eating and seeing the clear connection between personal and environmental health connected with their food choices.
What are some of your plans for the future of Good Catch?
CS: We created Good Catch to make an impact. As a long-time vegan and chef, I was motivated entirely by the challenge of creating solutions to overfishing, bycatch and overall concerns of ocean health, which are all serious problems in the seafood industry. We want to continue to give consumers delicious, accessible and eco-friendly solutions to conventional animal-based proteins that ultimately keep fish in our oceans and off our plates.
What is your advice for other plant-based food brands?
CS: I recommend moving quickly. The plant-based sector is growing at a dramatic pace and consumers are demanding new solutions, so the ability to go to market quickly is essential. And certainly, we should all feel the sense of urgency for our planet, all that call it home, and personal health.