Nestlé launches plant-based tuna alternative, Vuna

7 Sep 2020

Nestlé is taking a dive into the plant-based seafood market with its new faux tuna brand Vuna. The plant-based tuna debuted in Switzerland in August under the company’s Garden Gourmet line where it is available for retail as well as sold in pre-made sandwiches in the deli at select stores.

Future plans to expand the availability of the product in other parts of the world will be announced at a later date.

Nestlé launches plant-based tuna alternative, Vuna
Image via Nestlé

Nestlé is actively looking to hook consumers that are trending toward plant-alternative products, a category that has only continued to grow despite the difficulties that have beset the food and beverage space in recent months. According to SPINS statistics from April, plant-based product sales grew 35% faster than the food category in general. Overall, the plant-based category was up 27% over 2019. The Swiss food giant has already taken steps to capitalize on the popularity of this category and has alternative burgers, mince meat, sausages and chicken nuggets available on shelves.

This new plant-based tuna is built on a base of pea protein and only has six ingredients: water, pea protein, wheat gluten, rapeseed oil, salt and a blend of natural flavors. It is packaged in glass jars and sold in cold cases, and Nestlé designed the product for use in sandwiches, salads and pizza.

Nutritionally, the product diverges from sea-based tuna. Per 100 grams, Vuna contains 266kcal, 23.4 grams protein and 18.2 grams of fat, 2.4 grams of which is saturated fat. In addition, Nestlé says the product contains all essential amino acids and no artificial colors or preservatives.

It took Nestlé nine months to develop the product and release it onto shelves. Food Navigator reported that Nestlé is already looking into other seafood alternative products, such as fish and shellfish.

Although the company is entering a relatively small segment of the plant-based space - plant-based seafood comprised only 1% of U.S. plant-based meat sales in 2019, according to data from the Good Food Institute - it is one that is expanding quickly. Good Catch, Hooked, New Wave and Prime Roots are all well-known competitors in the space that are receiving institutional funding to widen the gulf between them and newcomers. However, Nestlé has the advantage of deep pockets and well-established distribution channels that it can leverage to ride the wave of this swelling category and catch up.

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