Walton-backed S2G Ventures on Thursday announced it is investing an undisclosed amount in The Plant Based Seafood Company's "Mind Blown" brand of plant-based seafood alternatives.

The Virginia-based company, a spin-off from Van Cleve Seafood, manufactures a range of frozen plant-based shrimp, scallops and a crab cake alternatives. Its products are carried in Publix, Sprouts and specialty supermarkets throughout the United States.

S2G called the investment "the strongest brand in the category and the best-tasting products in the market."

It added that to succeed in the sector, plant-based seafood has to not only excel in the product category, but also "achieve price parity with the protein it is meant to replace."

In 2020, Chicago-based S2G Ventures launched its $100 million (€84.1 million) oceans and seafood fund under the management of market specialists Kate Danaher and Larsen Mettler.

Backed by Lukas Walton, grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton, S2G Ventures started in 2014 as a pioneer in sustainability in food and agriculture.

The group has made a series of investments since its founding, including in the alternative seafood space. The group put $10.8 million into cellular seafood group Avant in July 2022.

The group has also participated in funding rounds for ReelData AI, a data and analytics group specializing in land-based aquaculture production; Israeli aquaculture health company ViAqua Therapeutics; and nanobubble production technology company Moleaer.

Mixed opinions

While many traditional seafood companies have criticized the products for their marketing messages -- with some alleging outright fraud -- an increasing number of major companies have embraced plant-based products as a part of their overall line.

Most notably, three of the largest fish finger suppliers to the UK and EU market -- Birds Eye and Iglo parent Nomad Foods, Germany-based Frosta and Young's Seafood parent Sofina -- launched plant-based "fish finger alternatives."

Nomad in particular is banking on the trend, creating a new "Green Cuisine" brand for its products, and marketing it heavily across its markets.

Other seafood groups have also moved into plant-based seafood, either via investment or partnership.

Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, owned by seafood conglomerate Thai Union Group, itself one of the world's largest global shrimp suppliers, will partner with the Ish Food Company, a Pennsylvania-based plant-based shrimp maker.

Alternative seafood products are an increasingly important sector of the food industry. In 2022, more than $175 million (€162 million) was invested in companies producing or planning to produce alternative seafood items. The investment reflects a 92 percent increase from the $91 million (€84.3 million) invested in the sector in 2020.