Tyson announces plans for plant-based shrimp in 2020.

It can only be said so many times that the plant-based food revolution is here to stay. Naturally, companies everywhere are trying to capitalize on the surge in consumer interest. Though the alt-meat game has mostly been dominated by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, there are other notable companies willing to throw their hat in the ring.

One of those is Tyson Foods. The multinational corporation just announced plans to release plant-based shrimp. It will do so indirectly by investing heavily in a Silicon Valley startup, New Wave Foods. The “alt-shrimp” will likely be available to hungry seafood eaters in 2020.

First to Market

One of the key principles of sound business is beating competitors to the market. Tyson Foods is embracing this with its latest venture into New Wave. Though there is nothing new about plant-based meat, there is currently no such thing as alt-shrimp available to consumers.

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Tyson hopes to take advantage of this fact and entice eco-friendly seafood eaters before competitors have a chance to capture any of the already small market share. Should things go as planned, the strategy could work out very well.

There is no doubt that demand for plant-based meat is at an all-time high. After all, trading a beef burger for an alternative that looks, tastes, and even cooks like meat is a fairly easy substitute. Still, it remains to be seen if consumers would be willing to give plant-based shrimp a try.

Texture Focus

New Wave Foods’ shrimp will reportedly be made of seaweed extract combined with a protein boost from other plants. Beyond Burgers are made with pea protein isolate, for example. However, it will be much more difficult to capture the texture and taste of shrimp than ground beef.

Fortunately, New Wave is already acknowledging this fact. The startup’s chief technology officer and co-founder Michelle Wolf (no, not that Michelle Wolf) said, “We have been wholly focused on making this a product for the flexitarian. It has to provide the bite and texture and characteristic snap of shrimp. It was critical to get the texture, so much of the work has gone into that.”

Interestingly, Impossible Foods is facing a similar challenge of its own. In August, the company announced plans for Impossible Fish. It will struggle in its own right to replicate the texture and “fishiness” of real fish in its plant-based variety.

Despite the obvious challenges, Tyson and New Wave might be onto something. With shrimp farming having a direct impact on climate change according to a 2018 study, consumers might want to re-think their choices at the grocery store. Without a competitor, the brand’s plant-based shrimp could be a smashing success when it releases in 2020.

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