Meals firm Victoria presents a vegan choice for smoked salmon (which is carrots)

A Victoria vegan food company has jumped on the increasing popularity of plant-based proteins and is starting to take a small bite out of the smoked salmon market.

Save da Sea was founded in 2020 by Aki Kaltenbach from Victoria and has developed a smoked salmon alternative based on carrots.

Kaltenbach said she was driven by her own veganism, concerns about animal welfare and a growing concern about the environmental impact of agriculture and aquaculture. Although the product was only launched a year ago, demand has driven the expansion to the point that it is now available at 75 retailers in Western Canada and several restaurants, and they are in talks about shipping products to Quebec and Ontario .

“The response has been incredible and I’m not going to lie, our timing was really good,” she said, noting when fast food restaurants like Burger King and A&W offer plant-based burgers and mainstream grocers stock plant-based alternatives no more fringe players.

“It’s more well known now and there is so much plant-based meat activity going on that it seems like a different company pops up every other day,” she said.

“You see the opportunity.”

The Good Food Institute, a US-based proponent of alternative proteins, estimates that the plant-based food market in the US grew 27 percent over the past year to $ 7 billion annually. While most of that market is plant-based milk, worth about $ 2.5 billion annually, seafood makes up only a tiny fraction – it’s estimated at $ 12 million a year.

Kaltenbach said there is plenty of room for growth as plant-based foods still only make up one percent of the total meat market.

“It’s mainstream now, but seafood makes up only one percent of all vegetable meat sales in dollars,” she said. “This is how early seafood is plant-based.”

It could get a boost from news that a number of British Columbia restaurants have taken wild salmon off their menus due to dwindling salmon stocks. Kaltenbach said she was working to provide alternatives.

Carrot-based smoked salmon was the top choice, and they are working to create an alternative to canned tuna that they hope will be available in restaurants this fall.

Kaltenbach, who ran her family’s Japanese restaurants when she came up with the idea of ​​plant-based alternatives to fish, praised the attitude of the restaurants, but suggests that instead of replacing salmon with other fish, why not consider plant-based alternatives.

“What is not discussed is that there are other options instead of going to other fish. Why shouldn’t we generally reduce our seafood intake? Effect.

She said this type of business was born and bred on the west coast – manufacturing is in Vancouver while headquarters are in Victoria – because the region is in tune with the plight of salmon stocks.

“It’s something that British Columbians care about, this species is threatened.”

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