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Q&A: Chad Sarno of Good Catch on crafting plant-based seafood

It seems like everyone’s fighting for a slice of the meat-free pie these days.

The surge in the adoption of flexitarian and vegetarian lifestyles has led to the exponential growth of plant-based, alternative meat industry. Today, the billion-dollar industry is saturated with bigger players like Impossible, Beyond, OmniFoods and as well as smaller ones from local shores like Singapore-based KARANA.

Yet, there seems to be another source of protein that has been raising concerns. Since 1961, the average annual increase in global food fish consumption is around 3.1 percent, surpassing the animal protein consumption of 2.1 percent and the global population growth of 1.6 percent per annum. These are startling numbers, so it’s no surprised that it’s driven growing concerns over the sustainability of overfishing and the impact on the marine environment.

Which is exactly why plant-based seafood brand, Good Catch was born. According to Chad Sarno, Chief Culinary Officer and Co-Founder of Good Catch, “We are clearly taking more from the oceans than they can give, and there needed to be more solutions on the market.”

“Plant-based proteins have grown to be far more than a trend, but with ever-growing transparency around the fishing industry practices, consumers are voting for more ocean-friendly options, so retailers, investors and dining establishments are seeing this as a growth that is only amplifying,” he adds.

chad Sarno
Chad Sarno, Chief Culinary Officer and Co-Founder of Good Catch

We spoke to Chad about his reasons behind crafting a plant-based seafood brand, nutritional concerns over the product, and what sets Good Catch apart from the other competitors in the market.

Could you share a bit more about Good Catch, and how the brand came about?

We saw the white space and wanted to disrupt the seafood industry with a great tasting alternative. Good Catch is a chef-driven brand developing plant-based seafood that delivers the same texture and flavour as animal-based seafood. 

We founded the company in 2016 and worked close to two years on the texture of our product before finalising its taste. It’s been a labour of love.

Nestle launched a vegan tuna product in Switzerland last year, Impossible is also working on a fish product, and OmniFoods has set its eyes on Asian seafood market as well. There are so many different types of plant-based seafood products and brands in the market now — what sets Good Catch apart from the rest?

We’re a chef-driven, culinary-focused company. We’re all about flavour and delicious food, and we curate the experience along the way for the end customer, whether it’s a food service partner or retail shopper.

Our plant-based seafood products are simply superior in taste and texture to everything else on the market. Yes, there is more competition coming online, but ultimately that creates better products and the consumer wins. Competition only encourages innovation. 

Good Catch
The Good Catch “fish”cakes can be seen in this vegan spring roll bowl

Why seafood? 

We are clearly taking more from the oceans than they can give, and there needed to be more solutions on the market. When we launched our company, there was almost nothing on offer in the plant-based seafood sector.

We saw a massive white space and the ability to create a completely new offering that consumers would enjoy, that keeps the fish in our oceans and off our plates.

So, what goes into the product? 

All products are made using 100-percent, non-GMO, plant-based ingredients, comprising a protein-packed proprietary six-legume blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans.

As plant-based alternatives become the norm these days, there have been concerns surrounding how highly-processed the products are. Is this something Good Catch is able to address? 

Our products are made from peas and beans and lentils, all being excellent sources of protein, free of mercury, dairy, and GMOs. It takes a certain amount of process to make any plant-based protein alternative, and consumers seem to be comfortable with the way our products are made. 

Good Catch
The Good Catch “tuna” flakes, featured in an Oaxacan Tuna Salad Sandwich

Taste is important, but what about its nutritional value? 

Due to our six-legume blend, all Good Catch products are a great source of protein, with our plant-based tuna alone being over 20 grams of protein per serving. Additionally, we have found that diversifying the legumes makes it more easily digestible than a single legume, and all our ingredients hail from non-GMO sources. 

We understand that Good Catch will debut four products in F&B outlets in Singapore. Could share with us a little more about the partner restaurants and how the collaborations came about? 

We are working with several F&B outlets that share the same passion in promoting delicious plant-based meals for the diner seeking food that make a difference, for both personal health and health of our oceans.

Each partner is not only passionate about creating a social impact through what we choose to eat, but also believe that sustainability and social impact can taste equally as delicious and provide a whole new gourmet experience for discerning diners. These partners include Grand Hyatt, Privé, Good Food People, and Love Handles.

Chad Sarno
Good Catch “Tuna” Melt Croissant from Prive

How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted Good Catch’s business model, if at all?

We are seeing more and more consumers that are looking to improve their own health through a plant-based diet. This is combined with an increasing consumer awareness and concern about animal welfare and the threat of climate change.

These concerns are some of the many reasons why more consumers are being drawn to alternative proteins. We are also seeing that plant-based seafood is just another option to appeal to the consumer actively looking to diversify their protein source.

Good Catch
Besides a fishcake substitute, Good Catch is also launching a crab cake alternative in Singapore

Is there a timeline as to when diners will be able to get the plant-based ready-to-eat seafood in retail stores in Singapore? 

We don’t have a timeline just yet, but we’ll be in retail. We’re working hard to make sure our initial food service launch goes well, then we’ll focus on retail opportunities.

So, what’s next?

Since our initial launch, the demand for a variety of plant-based options, especially in the seafood category, has grown exponentially and we are constantly developing new ways to bring innovative, great-tasting plant-based seafood products to consumers.

We are excited to see the Good Catch brand expand in Asia and to meet the growing demand for plant-based seafood, and most importantly have a positive impact on our oceans and sea life.

Find out more about Good Catch here. All images courtesy of Good Catch.

Jocelyn Tan
Senior Writer
Jocelyn Tan is a travel and design writer who's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history. When she actually gets to travel, you can find her attempting to stuff her entire wardrobe into her luggage. Yes, she's a chronic over-packer.