Seafood and chicken next for plant-based food entrepreneurs who are aiming to slow overfishing, climate change
- OmniSeafood’s line of six plant-based products, including fish fillets, deep-fried golden fillets, minced tuna, and crabmeat aims to slow seafood consumption
- Another company keen to help save the planet by jumping into the plant-based protein race is Next Gen, which is offering Tindle – ‘chicken made from plants’
The Netflix documentary Seaspiracy claims that, with current fishing practices, there could be no more fish in the oceans by 2048.
While some marine scientists say a fishless ocean is an unlikely scenario, related issues such as overfishing, microplastics found in seafood and other types of pollution are serious concerns for people who are mindful of the seafood they eat.
At a presentation at the Cordis Hong Kong hotel on World Ocean Day last month, he gave some sobering statistics: in 1950, annual global seafood consumption was 20 million tonnes; 70 years on, it has ballooned to 180 million tonnes.
“Can the ocean endlessly supply food to us?” Yeung asked. “The problem is there is no way the ocean and the world can keep up with that kind of appetite we have been building.”
Yeung underlined another telling fact: Hong Kong consumes far more seafood than other places. “The global average of per capita seafood consumption is 20.3kg per year, while Hong Kong is 3.5 times the global average,” Yeung says. In 2017, Hong Kong was the second highest consumer per capita of fish and seafood in Asia at 70.75kg, second only to the Maldives at 90.41kg.
A way to slow seafood consumption is to offer plant-based alternatives that are as tasty and nutritious. OmniFoods is doing just that, unveiling its OmniSeafood line of six plant-based products, including classic fish fillets, deep-fried golden fillets, minced tuna, and crabmeat.
OmniSeafood is made with non-GMO soy, peas and rice, has no trans-fat or cholesterol, and contains omega-3.
While it is not yet available at the retail level, diners can sample dishes made from OmniSeafood at Kind Kitchen in Central, and at all Green Common stores except the Alexandra House location. Ming Court in Wan Chai and restaurants in the Cordis Hong Kong hotel will offer OmniSeafood on their menus from mid-July.
Because Tindle is plant-based, its production has less of an impact on the planet than raising and slaughtering chickens does, requiring 74 per cent less land, 82 per cent less water, and producing 88 per cent less greenhouse gases, the company claims, citing Blue Horizon’s 2020 Environmental Impacts Of Animal And Plant-Based Food Report.
The product was launched in Singapore and is now in Hong Kong, on the menus of 16 restaurants including Katsumoto Sando, Big Birdy, Alvy’s, Bo Innovation, Potato Head, and Cococabana.
Currently, Tindle plant-based chicken is available only in restaurants, where chefs are developing innovative ways of using it that might help determine in what form it will be available for retail later.
Marc Jolly is the growth director for Asia Pacific for Tindle’s producer, Next Gen. He says global meat consumption is expected to rise 35 per cent by 2050, and by even more in Asia. That growth is not sustainable, he stresses.
The company understands that consumers like eating meat and are not going to give it up easily. “From a meat eater’s perspective, a lot of the vegan or veggie plant-based meat options have been only ‘average’,” Jolly says.
That is why Tindle “has to taste great, and it has to be something chefs can really work with ... [throughout] our whole design process we had chefs involved – so it’s made with chefs, for chefs”, he says.
Tindle is formed into patties that are like a malleable dough. In its raw form, it can be moulded into shapes, torn into strips and then, just like chicken meat, grilled, pan-fried, deep-fried, roasted, and even poached.
Jolly says Tindle’s ingredients include soy, wheat starch, gluten, sunflower oil, coconut oil, oat fibre and natural flavouring. “The nutrition is very similar to chicken. The protein, calories and fats for 100g, we’re the same, but Tindle doesn’t have cholesterol and it does have dietary fibre.”
W Hong Kong’s executive chef, Rafael Gil, doesn’t use plant-based products much, but when given the opportunity to try Tindle he took it and was “shocked” by the results.
“What I like about Tindle is you can play around with it, you have the base [product], and then add your condiments, season it, and then do different formats, like skewers, balls, patties,” he says.
“To be honest when I received the sample [that looked like dough], I thought this will not work – but I was shocked when I tested it. I made a simple burger patty, seasoning it with salt, pepper and olive oil.
“For me, the most crazy thing was the texture. It has a very similar texture to chicken, the fibres. That surprised me.”
He has created the W Nachos Tindle Fiesta, a vegetarian burger using a deep-fried Tindle patty that is seasoned with tequila and jalapeños, covered in breadcrumbs and served with Cheddar cheese and guacamole, with nachos on top.
Gil says he appreciates Tindle’s versatility that provides him with another option when faced with increasing requests for vegetarian or vegan dishes.