Atlantic Natural Foods, producer of the vegan tuna brand Tuno, said Tuesday it is "considering legal options around the denial of its entrance" into the annual Seafood Expo North America show set for March in Boston.
The company said Tuesday the denial violated its first amendment rights.
In October 2019, Atlantic Natural requested admittance to the 2020 show to exhibit its Tuno product -- a fishless canned seafood made with a blend of ocean proteins including seaweed and algae, soy, yeast, sunflower oil and other ingredients -- and was denied on the basis that, as a matter of policy, the show is “restricted to seafood producers.”
ANF said it requested that Diversified Communications, which operates the show, reconsider its decision, "on the grounds that Tuno is not only made of ocean-based ingredients but also is currently developing seafood applications."
The company believes the actions are directed solely towards ANF and its owners, which are long-term veterans of the seafood industry.
“Leaders in the seafood industry are again attempting to ignore innovation and groups out of their control,” said J. Douglas Hines, chairman of ANF and 40-year veteran of the global seafood industry.
“Instead of embracing change and delivering on new consumer expectations, they continue on a path to repeat past practices.”
Last week California-based attorney Keith R. Solar with Parks & Solar issued a letter to Wynter Courmont, event director for Seafood Expo North America with Diversified, stating he gave Diversified until Jan. 14 to either allow ANF to exhibit at the show, or "provide a public, written policy that applies to all participants to prohibit any exhibitor" that applies to all participants that do not "solely offer products that are 100 percent seafood-protein in origin."
Solar included in the letter a complaint it has drafted to file with the US District Court of Massachusetts over the issue.
In the complaint, it notes that Diversified in 2018 allowed Ocean Hugger Foods, which produces vegan seafood products, to participate in the event.
Diversified Communications declined to comment on the issue.