Dutch food brand Schouten is releasing new vegan fish sticks in response to the growing demand for animal-free seafood products brought on in part by the popularity of Netflix documentary Seaspiracy. The brand’s new wheat- and rice-based vegan fish sticks are meant to be used in the same applications as traditional fish sticks. “We have noticed that the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy has made a big impression on people and has contributed to a growing awareness of the importance of plant-based alternatives to fish,” Schouten Product Manager Annemiek Vervoort said. “This will further increase the demand for fish substitutes.”

Schouten’s new vegan fish sticks follow the launch of its vegan tuna earlier this year. Currently, the Dutch plant-based meat market is valued at €180 million ($218 million) while the vegan seafood market is only €1 million ($1.2 million). However,  given the current climate, Schouten is certain that plant-based seafood is poised to grow exponentially. “We want to develop sustainable and tasty alternatives that reduce the pressure on the oceans,” Vervoort said. “We expect to add another three fish substitutes to our product range before the summer.”  

The family-owned brand—which distributes its products in 50 countries—has been developing meat alternatives since 1990 and plans to launch its plant-based fish products worldwide in both retail and foodservice channels. 

The Seaspiracy effect

Seaspiracy premiered on Netflix in February and has already made waves with consumers and food companies alike. Produced by Kip Anderson—the documentary filmmaker behind Cowspiracy and What the Health—the film exposes the damaging effects of the global fishing industry on the world’s oceans, as well as corruption such as faulty sustainable fish certifications and shrimp industry slave labor. 

This month, Hong Kong-based grocery store Slowood committed to phasing out its remaining fish products and will donate a portion of sales from its last fish products to vegan ocean conservation group Sea Shepherd. “Netflix’s new documentary Seaspiracy has opened our eyes to the overwhelming and damaging effects the fishing industry has on our whole ecosystem,” the store owners explained the move on social media. 

As consumers continue to be inspired by Seaspiracy to ditch fish, vegan seafood companies are growing to meet this new demand. Earlier this month, Gathered Foods—parent company of vegan seafood brand Good Catch Foods—announced that it had secured a $26.35 million investment that it will use to ramp up innovation, increase its product range, and help its Good Catch brand expand internationally.