Vgarden launches tinned tuna made from pea protein

26 Jan 2023

Israeli plant-based company Vgarden has recently launched vegan tinned tuna made from pea protein, sunflower oil, and nutritional fibers amidst the rise of sustainably conscious consumers.

Tuna is one of the most widely consumed fish globally with over seven million metric tons of tuna and tuna-like species harvested yearly. Tinned tuna, considered a staple cupboard food in the West, inspired the creation of Vgarden’s “tuna-like” product called vegan tuna. It is clean-label and sustainable with the same appearance, texture, and flavour as tuna fish, says the company’s CEO, Ilan Adut.

Vgarden launches tinned tuna made from pea protein
Pictured: Tacos with plant-based tuna and vegan crab | © iStock/Aamulya

“Tinned tuna has a very distinct flaky, yet moist and chewy texture, with a powerful fresh-from-the sea aroma,” explains Adut. “[…] But for our plant-based creation to serve as a true substitute, even beyond compellingly mimicking all of the sensory qualities, it also has to match tuna as much as possible in nutritional value.”

Protein from peas

Vgarden’s vegan tuna is made from pea protein, water, sunflower oil, nutritional fibers (cellulose), and natural flavourings. The total protein content per 100 g is between 11.2 and 14% and the formulation is free from ocean pollutants such as toxic metals and microplastics. It is available in two formats: pouches for chilled storage and tins for non-chilled storage.

Vgarden has developed a plant-based tuna that can be tinned and sterilised at high temperatures but retains flavour, taste, and texture. After 12 months of experimentation with various ingredients and processes the company settled on the current formulation, for which a patent has been filed.

The growing popularity of tinned tuna worldwide lies in its relatively low cost and convenience as a source of protein that requires no refrigeration.

Sustainable and healthy plant-based fish

A rise in health-conscious consumers seeking nutritious as well as sustainable plant-based products that taste like meat, seafood, and fish is creating a gap in the market for alternative food businesses. Spanish-Danish startup Mimic Seafood is another sustainable, vegan alternative brand using ingredients such as tomatoes, olive oil, and algae to replicate the taste and texture of fish.

Overfishing of tuna has reduced numbers of tuna fish, leaving some species such as Yellow Fin and Atlantic Bluefin almost extinct according to Tom Rothman, head of global sales at Vgarden.

“This not only poses problems in terms of food security but also negatively impacts the delicate and fragile balance of the marine environment. Our plant-based tuna solution can help turn the tide on this ecocatastrophe and contribute to the restoration of the ocean’s wild tuna populations,” says Rothman.

Without traditional fish production and a manufacturing process that uses minimal energy and consumption, Vgarden’s vegan tuna offers a sustainable alternative, Adut says. At present, Vgarden’s vegan tuna is only available in Israel but is expected to launch in Europe and US retail markets this year. With growing demand for plant-based tuna, Vgarden is expecting to also expand its reach to Asia-Pacific and Australia.

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