Good Catch casts its net north of the border

The plant-based seafood brand is going nationwide in Canada, leaning on culinary qualities to fill the white space.

Good Catch Frozen Canada

When Nestlé announced this summer that it had designs on sourcing a plant-based tuna alternative, it was a surefire sign that the plant based seafood trend had legs…or, maybe fins. 

And for now at least, with Nestlé testing its pea and wheat gluten tuna in its home base of Switzerland, there’s more elbow room for Good Catch the make a name for itself in Canada. The U.S. plant-based seafood brand owned by Gathered Foods is testing the waters north of the border, announcing a nationwide, 640-location launch that includes Loblaw, Provigo and Dominion as it looks to engage with flexitarians.

The brand is launching three frozen SKUs: fishless burgers, crabless cakes and fishless cakes, made from a proprietary six-legume blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans.

The National Research Council of Canada’s “Plant-Based Protein Market Global and Canadian Market Analysis” report, which reveals that 40% of Canadians are actively incorporating more plant-based foods into their diets. However, the seafood segment of the category has been underserved, with most brands starting their offerings off with burgers before moving into other ground “meats” and sausages.

Scott Simons, CMO at Good Catch, tells strategy that because it’s operating in a huge white space, the brand believes interest will be especially high in Canada, where consumers tend to be a little bit ahead of the curve when it comes to connecting their food choices to a greater environmental impact. Concerns over industrial fish farming are resulting in a rush to fill the void on store shelves: other than Nestle, Dutch brand Novish, whose mission is to “accelerate the world’s transition to plant-based foods,” announced its arrival in the summer, while ConAgra’s Gardein brand also currently offers “fish free” seafood.

When it comes to the packaging design, Simons says the brand aesthetic is one that speaks enough to the ocean that shoppers know it is a seafood product without being too literal, and that provides a strong backdrop for the photography. “Plant Made / Chef Mastered,” is the brand’s tagline, which, like adjacent plant-based categories, is a call out to the “good taste” proposition to put consumers new to category at ease.

“We’re a culinary-driven company, so we want our food photography to shine,” Simons says. It also needs to fit in the frozen seafood section, as most “flexitarians” have become used to shopping outside of plant-based and vegetarian sections and into meat aisles.

On the marketing side, Good Catch invests heavily in earned and paid media to drive awareness. “We’re a new brand with a new offering in an almost-entirely new category (plant based seafood), so making sure consumers are aware of us is paramount.”

He says the brand is exploring and testing all sorts of digital media, from imbedded video to programmatic display to streaming audio. COVID has changed consumers’ interactions with digital media specifically, and so the brand is doing some testing to see what will ultimately work for it.

“We wanted to launch these products right before the holiday and entertaining season kicks in, considering two of the three products are formatted as an appetizer size,” Simons says.

And while nothing is planned for point of sale just yet, it’s exploring such tactics in the future. Good Catch’s creative – except for PR – is all done in-house and with some freelance talent, he says, and the brand is not using Canadian agency support at this time.

Canada is not the only new market on Good Catch’s radar, having recently expanded its distribution footprint with a U.K. launch in Tesco announced earlier this year. Recently, parent Gathered Foods announced a joint distribution venture with Bumble Bee Foods (which is marketed as Clover Leaf in Canada), leveraging its sales, distribution and logistics expertise. The release says Bumble Bee is the first and only major conventional seafood company to partner with a plant-based seafood brand, and Chris Kerr, CEO and co-founder of Good Catch, said at the time that the hope is that the partnership will help the brand can reach far more consumers.