- Current Foods, which makes raw, plant-based seafood, was acquired by Wicked Kitchen in a stock transaction. No further terms of the deal were disclosed.
- Wicked Kitchen CEO Pete Speranza said in a statement that the acquisition targets an “exciting growth segment” and reflects the plant-based industry’s need for consolidation. Current Foods, formerly known as Kuleana, produces plant-based seafood for foodservice and fine dining restaurants in the US and Europe. Their plant-based tuna steak won an FABI award at the National Restaurant Association Show last weekend.
- Plant-based seafood is a growth area, analysts have said. Last year, Wicked Kitchen acquired plant-based seafood maker Good Catch, in a move to broaden the company’s reach in the sprawling category.
With this acquisition, Wicked Kitchen becomes attracting a brand that has earned numerous accolades and has a unique position in the plant-based market. The deal also helps Wicked Kitchen expand its foodservice and retail options and become a major force in the industry.
“Current Foods is a perfect match for Wicked as a global impact brand with the same mission and complementary products,” Speranza said in the press release. “With this deal and the acquisition of Good Catch, we are in a unique position as consumers continually learn about the realities of environmental impact on marine life.”
Current Foods started in 2019. Their products are made from ingredients including pea protein, sunflower oil, bamboo fiber, and algae oil. mainstream products they’re available at restaurants across the country, including chef Guy Vaknin’s City Roots Hospitality in New York City and Blue Sushi Sake Grill. The company’s smoked salmon product is sold in a handful of retail stores.
In its lifetime as a company, Current Foods has been supported by major investors including Greatpoint Ventures, Union Grove and Astantor Ventures, and notables including NBA athlete Chris Paul. The company has worked to be at the forefront of the plant-based seafood sector, even setting a world record for serving the largest plant-based ceviche in one serving last year.
Wicked Kitchen is on its way to becoming a ubiquitous plant-based brand in the United States and Europe. Its products are currently available at 90,000 distribution points. It has over 40 different products in the US and over 150 products in the UK. Retail products under the Wicked Kitchen brand include heat and eat entrees, frozen pizza and pints of ice cream and novelties.
As the plant-based meat space has seen slowing sales, and the closure of some brands, many analysts have projected that large-scale consolidation will soon follow. This deal meets that prediction and will help Wicked Kitchen strengthen its position in the plant-based space.
“There is so much shelf space and we are all fighting for volume,” Speranza said in the statement. “The industry needs transformation to maintain innovation and competitive advantage. Wicked is at the forefront.”
The acquisition also brings something new to Wicked Kitchen. While the company does have its Good Catch brand of seafood, those products are analogues of cooked shellfish. Current Foods won’t be competing with those, and will likely show up in different types of food service and in different areas of retail stores.
Year-over-year sales of plant-based seafood increased 40% in 2022, according to Essential facts statistics presented by the Plant-Based Foods Association, so this is a segment that could continue to grow. With the recent recognition of Current Foods at the NRA Show, Wicked Kitchen has made this acquisition just in time to quickly capitalize on the new interest in the brand.
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